The effects of a 5-year physical activity on prescription (PAP) intervention in patients with metabolic risk factors
Background: Increased physical activity (PA) has positive effects on health and longevity. In Swedish healthcare, the physical activity on prescription (PAP) method reportedly increases patients' PA levels for up to 12 months, but long-term follow ups are lacking. As it remains difficult to maintain lifestyle changes, our aim was to evaluate adherence and clinical effects at a 5-year follow-up of PAP treatment in primary healthcare.
Methods: This longitudinal, prospective cohort study included 444 patients, (56% female), aged 27-85 years, with at least one metabolic risk factor. Participants were offered PAP by nurses or physiotherapists. The PAP intervention included an individualised dialogue, a PA recommendation by written prescription, and individually adjusted follow-up over 5 years, according to the Swedish PAP model. Patient PA level, metabolic risk factors, and health related quality of life (HRQoL) were measured at baseline and at the 6-month, 1.5-year, 2.5-year, 3.5-year, and 5-year follow-ups. Estimated latent growth curves were used to examine levels and rates of change in the outcomes.
Results: The study dropout rate was 52%, with 215 of 444 patients completing the 5-year follow-up. At follow-up, the mean PA level had increased by 730 MET-minutes per week or 3 hours of moderate-intensity PA/week when compared to baseline. During the 5-year intervention, we observed significant positive changes (p ≤ 0.05) in 9 of 11 metabolic risk factors and HRQoL parameters: body mass index, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, and mental component summary.
Conclusion: This first evaluation of a 5-year PAP intervention in primary care demonstrated positive long-term (5 years) effects regarding PA level, metabolic health, and HRQoL. The recorded long-term adherence was ~50%, which is in line with medical treatment. Despite limitations, PAP can have long-term effects in an ordinary primary care setting.