Oral Presentations

O-11: The Development of a Physical Activity Screening and Counselling Tool for Primary Care

Ms. Rebecca Clark

Clark R*.,
Milligan J.,
Ashe MC.,
Faulkner G.,
Canfield C.,
Funnell L.,
Brien S.,
Butt D.,
Samson K.,
Windt A.,
Mehan U.,
Papaioannou A.,
Giangregorio LM.

University of Waterloo
Department of Kinesiology


Topic: eHealth

Regular physical activity is an effective way to prevent or treat many chronic diseases. Unfortunately, less than 50% of Canadians achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Primary care physicians are well positioned to discuss physical activity, but face barriers that prevent them from doing so. A physical activity screening and counseling tool integrated into the electronic medical record (EMR) system is one potential mechanism to help overcome the barriers.

To determine health care providers’, patients’ and other stakeholders’ perspectives on their needs, preferences and perceived barriers when it comes to using an EMR based physical activity screening and counseling tool.

The qualitative study design used semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals, patients, and relevant organizations (e.g., organizations that advocate for chronic disease management or health care professionals). Thematic and content analysis were used to identify themes and desired tool design elements.

31 physicians, nurses, patients and other stakeholders (mean age 40 years, 65% from primary care) participated. It is clear that physicians want to discuss physical activity with patients, but need the screening and counseling process to be patient-centred. For example, the screening process needs to foster a discussion about physical activity with open ended, non-confrontational questions. Second, there are perceived limitations of what physicians can achieve within primary care due to barriers such as time constraints and competing priorities.

A key theme was the tension between creating EMR tools that are convenient for the clinician, and the recognition that it takes time to make a difference. EMR based physical activity screening and counseling tool needs to be simple and time efficient to fit within the workflow of primary care, while still facilitating an individualized, open-ended discussion to support patient behaviour change.