Title

Professional perspectives on physical activity screening practices: Shifting the paradigm

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

3-1-2008

Abstract

Contexts: This was a qualitative study with focus groups that included researchers and health care providers with expertise in exercise and physical activities with adults. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore professional perspectives on current practices and beliefs about screening of older adults prior to having them initiate a structured or independent physical activity program appropriate for their physical ability and interests. Design and setting: This qualitative study included five different focus groups held at four national professional meetings based on a standard interview guide. Participants: Forty-two practitioners and researchers participated in these focus groups. These individuals were selected for participation based on their expertise in aging, primary care, exercise science, or behavioral science. Results: The focus groups revealed professional perspectives articulating advantages and disadvantages of pre-exercise screening. Four major themes were identified: (1) rationale for physical activity screening; (2) rationale for no screening prior to physical activity; (3) knowledge gaps and research needs; and (4) recommendations for new screening guidelines. Conclusions: Results suggested there was a need for a paradigm shift in screening from an 'exclusions' focus to an emphasis on individualized physical activity programs that would result in optimal benefits while preventing rare but possible activity-induced adverse events. Future research needs were delineated and focused on gaining a better understanding of the effectiveness and use of screening measures in identifying cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems associated with specific physical activities and exercise.

Publication Title

Critical Public Health

Volume

18

Issue

1

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