The Impact of Patient Exercise Referral Schemes on Quality of Life.
1University of Bath, Bath, UK
Background: Exercise referral schemes are increasingly used in primary care to promote mental health and wellbeing. This study explored the often overlooked psychological outcomes that patients experience from taking part. Methods: A pre- post design was used. Changes in potential mediators of change (motivation and self-efficacy), and quality of life (QoL) were recorded for 117 consecutive patients referred to a 12-week physical activity referral scheme in south west England. Outcomes were assessed at 3, 6, and 12 months after enrolment. Findings: Intrinsic motivation for exercise increased over 3 and 6 months (p<.05), but there was no change in self-efficacy or extrinsic motivation. Improvements in QoL were reported at all time points (p<.005). Improved QoL was positively predicted by improved self-efficacy at both 3 (R2=0.2) and 6 months (R2=0.4). Changes in motivation were not independently predictive of the observed improvements in QoL, but were significantly associated. Discussion: Exercise referral schemes can enhance intrinsic motivation for physical activity and QoL. The inclusion of strategies to promote self-efficacy may further enhance psychological outcomes.