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Patient volunteers needed for GP exercise referral study

Posted on July 15th 2015

Patients with common physical and mental health conditions are being sought by researchers to participate in a trial, which will investigate whether adding a web-based coaching system to the GP exercise referral scheme would lead to an increased uptake of the programme and improve long-term health.

The exercise referral scheme is an established method used by GPs to prescribe exercise to patients with existing medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis or a history of depression. Evidence suggests that exercise is both physically and mentally beneficial for a patient, but that rates of uptake and ongoing engagement may not be optimal.

Patients across Birmingham, Glasgow and the South West of England, who are deemed suitable for the exercise referral scheme by a GP or practice nurse, are needed for the trial. The trial, being conducted by Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and supported by PenCLAHRC, will explore the effectiveness of using e-coachER - a new program designed to help patients access available support from the exercise referral scheme and build their own motivation.

The primary objective will be for patients to achieve the public health target of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise every week, by the end of a 12 month period. The trial will investigate whether patients using the e-coachER after 12 months, take up the exercise referral scheme and end up being more physically active. The trial will also seek to determine what the costs, long-term health benefits and NHS savings may be.

Professor Adrian Taylor, Chief Investigator for the e-coachER trial commented:

“We know that the exercise referral scheme is a valuable tool for patients for whom regular exercise would be beneficial, but the trick is to support patients to remain physically active to improve or maintain long term health. We need to recruit 466 patients from GP surgeries across the South West. We have written to GPs to ask them to put forward patients for the study, but we are also keen that patients also get involved by either speaking to their GP to be referred, or by talking to us direct.”

GP surgeries in the trial recruitment sites have or will be receiving a leaflet from the research team outlining the project and the sort of patients they are hoping will take part in the study. If you would like to take part or want more information please visit the e-coachER webpage where there is an email address and phone number to contact.

You can also listen to Professor Taylor discussing the project on BBC Radio Devon (from 52mins onwards) via this link (available until 5th August 2015).

Photo credit: Plymouth University

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