There is strong evidence for the use of physical activity to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases. Twenty years ago, Sweden introduced a new method to promote physical activity within healthcare: physical activity on prescription (PAP-S). Today, the Public Health Agency of Sweden coordinates an EU-funded project, EUPAP, to support the implementation of the method in nine EU Member States. The Public Health Agency of Sweden is also responsible for training professionals in the core components of the PAP-S methodology, and for developing implementation tools.
The overall objectives of the EUPAP project are to promote good health and to prevent non-communicable diseases through implementing country-specific physical activity on prescription models in health care services in all partner countries, based on national context.
Target groups for the dissemination are healthcare educators and practitioners, physical activity suppliers, as well as patients and the general public. Special emphasis is placed on involving policy and decision makers from authorities at national, regional and local levels.
The shared experiences from the project will be included in the EUPAP guideline published in English at the end of the project.
Physical Activity on Prescription (PAP-S)
Characteristics of PAP-S are individualised counselling and prescription based on the patient’s circumstances. All licensed healthcare professionals with adequate expertise may prescribe physical activity and diagnosis-specific recommendations of physical activity is central in the PAP-S method.
Another important component in PAP-S is that patients participate in activities outside healthcare services with the aim to integrate physical activity into a regular routine in everyday life. Thus, the healthcare services collaborate with various activity organisers in the local community to help individuals both increase and maintain their activity level. A prescription can be issued as prevention, as first line of treatment or as a complement to pharmaceutical or rehabilitation treatments. PAP-S has shown positive effects on physical activity levels as well as health outcomes for longer periods in both clinical follow-up studies and randomised controlled trials. The adherence is as good as to other long-term treatments.
The effect of the PAP-S on physical activity behaviour seems to decline with time when there is no structural and regular follow-up or feedback to the patients after the initial counselling and prescription and therefore follow-up is strongly emphasised in PAP-S.
Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden
Swedish Professional Association for Physical Activity (YFA)