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Walking on prescription : The utility of a pedometer pack for increasing physical activity in primary care

McKay, Jane and Wright, Annemarie and Lowry, Ruth and Steele, Kenny and Ryde, Gemma and Mutrie, Nanette (2009) Walking on prescription : The utility of a pedometer pack for increasing physical activity in primary care. Patient Education and Counseling, 76 (1). pp. 71-76. ISSN 0738-3991

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Objective: This study used a multi-method approach to examine the effectiveness of a pedometer-based intervention delivered by health professionals for increasing walking. Methods: Pedometer packs were distributed to 374 patients who undertook a 12-week walking programme. Changes in walking were assessed at three months (using self-reported step-counts [n = 139] and questionnaire data [n = 104]) and at six months (using patient questionnaire data [n = 112]). Qualitative data were collected at both time points to identify underlying mechanisms. Results: After 12 weeks patients had increased their step-counts by 4532 steps/day (p < .001) and at six months were achieving 2977 more steps/day (equivalent to around 30 min/day) than at baseline. Over half the patients reported achieving this target on at least 5 days/week. Qualitative data indicated that the pedometer pack was perceived to be most effective when patients were ready to change and when ongoing support was made available. Conclusion: These findings support the use of pedometer-based interventions in primary care and suggest that the pedometer pack Could lead to sustainable changes in walking. Further investigation, using a randomised controlled trial design, is warranted. Practice implications: Provision of social support and accurate identification of patient readiness to change are important considerations in future implementation of the intervention. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.