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Randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of motivational interviewing and implementation intentions for a physical activity referral scheme

Bogle, V. (2009). Randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of motivational interviewing and implementation intentions for a physical activity referral scheme. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University)



Regular participation in physical activity is important for health. However, the vast majority of the population in the UK are not active at levels to benefit their health, with people living with long-term health conditions being amongst the least active. In recent years in the UK physical activity referral schemes have become a popular approach within the primary care setting in promoting longterm participation in physical activity for sedentary patients with long-term conditions. Such schemes typically involve a health care professional referring a patient to a supervised exercise programme for a set period of time. This said, evidence for their effectiveness is limited. The aim of study was to examine the effects of a physical activity referral scheme on increasing physical activity levels in inactive patients using two behaviour change approaches, namely Motivational Interviewing and Implementation Intentions compared with a treatment as usual control group.


Fifty-three patients were referred from primary care to a physical activity referral scheme for participation in a 12-week programme. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: treatment as usual (control group), Implementation Intention group (intervention 1) Motivational Interviewing group (intervention 2). The main outcomes were changes in physical activity measured using 7-day physical activity recall and physical activity stage of change questionnaire items at three and six months, in addition to daily average step count using pedometers at three months.


The primary hypothesis that a physical activity referral scheme using Motivational Interviewing or Implementation Intentions would increase physical activity levels and improve short and longer-term maintenance more so than a physical activity referral scheme on its own was not supported. Observed increases in physical activity levels across the three groups was not dependant upon the Motivational Interviewing or Implementation Intention interventions.


Physical activity referral schemes using Motivational Interviewing and Implementation Intention approaches to facilitate behavioural change may not be any more effective than a treatment as usual physical activity referral scheme. However, the study had several limitations that should be considered when interpreting the findings.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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