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NICE physical activity tool used in fewer than 10% of consultations

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The NICE-recommended physical activity assessment tool is used in fewer than one in 10 eligible GP consultations, according to a new evaluation published in BMC Family Practice.

The General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ) is a seven-question tool that is supposed to take less than 60 seconds to administer, and categorises patients as active, moderately active, moderately inactive and inactive.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast asked practices in four socio-economically deprived areas to use GPPAQ in any non-urgent consultation with patients aged between 35 and 75 over a two-week period

In 2,154 eligible consultations the GPPAQ was only completed in 9%. Of these 43% of patients were categorised as inactive.

End of study questionnaires – largely completed by GPs – found that most found the questionnaire easy to use and could provide an objective measure of physical activity which was easy to convey to patients and use as the basis for advice.

But its use was limited by time constraints due to the patient’s presenting problems, not allowing the opportunity to initiate discussion about widee health issues.

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