Current practice of physical activity counselling within physiotherapy usual care and influences on its use: a cross-sectional survey

Shiyi Zhu, Catherine Sherrington, Matthew Jennings, Bernadette Brady, Marina Pinheiro, Sarah Dennis, Lauren J Christie, Balwinder Sidhu, Abby Haynes, Colin Greaves, Leanne Hassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Downloads (Pure)


Physical activity counselling has demonstrated effectiveness at increasing physical activity when delivered in healthcare, but is not routinely practised. This study aimed to determine (1) current use of physical activity counselling by physiotherapists working within publicly funded hospitals; and (2) influences on this behaviour. A cross-sectional survey of physiotherapists was conducted across five hospitals within a local health district in Sydney, Australia. The survey investigated physiotherapists' frequency of incorporating 15 different elements of physical activity counselling into their usual healthcare interactions, and 53 potential influences on their behaviour framed by the COM-B (Capability, Opportunity, Motivation-Behaviour) model. The sample comprised 84 physiotherapists (79% female, 48% <5 years of experience). Physiotherapists reported using on average five (SD:3) elements of physical activity counselling with at least 50% of their patients who could be more active. A total of 70% of physiotherapists raised or discussed overall physical activity, but less than 10% measured physical activity or contacted community physical activity providers. Physiotherapists reported on average 25 (SD:9) barriers influencing their use of physical activity counselling. The most common barriers were related to "opportunity", with 57% indicating difficulty locating suitable community physical activity opportunities and >90% indicating their patients lacked financial and transport opportunities. These findings confirm that physical activity counselling is not routinely incorporated in physiotherapy practice and help to identify implementation strategies to build clinicians' opportunities and capabilities to deliver physical activity counselling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4762
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021


  • Australia
  • Counseling
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


Dive into the research topics of 'Current practice of physical activity counselling within physiotherapy usual care and influences on its use: a cross-sectional survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this