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Primary healthcare nurses’ experiences of physical activity referrals: an interview study

  • Doris M. Bohman (a1), Linda Mattsson (a2) and Gunilla Borglin (a3)

The aim of this study is to illuminate primary health care (PHC) nurses’ experiences of physical activity referrals (PARs).


Despite extensive knowledge about the substantial health effects physical activities can produce, fewer and fewer people in our modern society regularly engage in physical activity. Within health care and, particularly, within the PHC arena, nurses meet people on a daily basis who need help to engage in a healthier lifestyle. The possibility of issuing written prescriptions for physical activities, often referred to as PARs, has been introduced as a tool to support such lifestyles. However, even though PHC nurses can prescribe physical activities, studies investigating their experience in this type of nursing intervention are rare.


For this study, 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with PHC nurses, and the transcribed texts were analysed using a qualitative content analysis.


Two categories – PARs, an important nursing intervention, and PARs, the necessity of organisational support – reflected the nurses’ experiences in using PARs.


Our findings suggest that viewing the PAR as a complex intervention, with all that this entails, might be one approach to increasing the number of PARs being issued. Simpler systems, more time and the potential for testing the effectiveness of follow-ups could be possible ways of achieving this.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Gunilla Borglin, Reader in Nursing, Faculty of Health and Society, Department of Care Science, Malmö University, Malmö, SE-205 06, Sweden. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
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