Offering physical activity counselling in occupational health care—does it reach the target group?

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BackgroundEmployees participating in worksite physical activity (PA) interventions are mostly the physically active and healthy ones. PA counselling may therefore have an important role in reaching ‘at-risk’ employees.AimsTo examine (i) how PA counselling offered by occupational health care (OHC) providers reaches the target group of physically inactive employees who have intentions to increase PA and (ii) the relations of 12 selected variables to respondents' willingness to participate in PA counselling.MethodsQuestionnaire survey of employees of client companies of OHC providers.ResultsEight of the 19 OHC providers contacted participated and recruited a total of nine client companies to the study. A questionnaire survey was delivered to all the employees of the companies (n=1349). Fifty-eight percent of employees (n=784) responded to the survey and half of them (n=380) belonged to the target group of being physically inactive and intending to increase PA. Only half of the respondents (n=201) in the target group were willing to participate in counselling. Respondents in small companies were more interested in counselling than employees in large companies as were white-collar workers compared to blue-collar workers. Earlier PA discussions in OHC and intention to increase leisure-time PA were also positively related to willingness.ConclusionsA counselling offer attached to a survey did not effectively reach the target group of physically inactive employees who were ready to increase their PA. More individually based approaches such as brief conversations during client contacts are needed in OHC to raise the interest in lifestyle issues.

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