The retrospective evaluation of a general practitioner exercise prescription programme

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Aim:The purpose of this retrospective evaluation was to examine the characteristics of men and women who embarked upon a 10-week general practitioner (GP) referral exercise prescription programme and to compare those who completed a 10-week programme of exercise (Finishers) with those who failed to complete (Non-finishers).Methods:Forty-two Finishers (16 males and 26 females) and 35 Non-finishers (12 males and 23 females) were followed up with a semistructured telephone interview. Clinical data were also collected from the patients' GPs' case notes and the data were analysed using both quantitative and qualitative methods.Results:Baseline results using one way ANOVA showed no statistical difference between the groups for age (P > 0.3), BMI (P > 0.9), Systolic BP (P > 0.9), Diastolic BP (P > 0.9), total cholesterol (P > 0.1), number of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors (P > 0.4), number of subjects with CHD family history (P > 0.7) or for number of smokers (P > 0.9). However, generally the females were younger than the males (males 57.9 ± 12.1 years, females 50.7 ± 13.3 years). Analysis of the available data from the case notes showed that (CHD)/coronary vascular disease (CVD) risk factors were not generally taken into account by the primary health care team to make appropriate referrals. Finishers attended the gym significantly (P < 0.0001) more times per week than the Non-finishers (F 2.5 ± 0.9, NF 1.7 ± 0.6 sessions/week). Results from the semistructured interviews revealed that Finishers were less reliant on social support and more likely to report tangible health benefits whereas Non-finishers relied on support of others when attending the gym.Conclusions:Results from this evaluation suggest, that the methodology used was to crude to accurately measure the complex characteristics which determine the differences between Finishers and Non-finishers.

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