Physical activity referral schemes (PARS) are implemented internationally to increase physical activity (PA), but evidence of effectiveness for population subgroups is equivocal. We examined gender differences for a Scottish PARS. This mixed-methods, concurrent longitudinal study had equal status quantitative and qualitative components. We conducted 348 telephone interviews across three time points (pre-scheme, 12 and 52 weeks). These included validated self-reported PA and exercise self-efficacy measures and open-ended questions about experiences. We recruited 136 participants, of whom 120 completed 12-week and 92 completed 52-week interviews. PARS uptake was 83.8% (114/136), and 12-week adherence for those who started was 43.0% (49/114). Living in less deprived areas was associated with better uptake (p = 0.021) and 12-week adherence (p = 0.020), and with male uptake (p = 0.024) in gender-stratified analysis. Female adherers significantly increased self-reported PA at 12 weeks (p = 0.005) but not 52 weeks. Males significantly increased exercise self-efficacy between baseline and 52 weeks (p = 0.009). Three qualitative themes and eight subthemes developed; gender perspectives, personal factors (health, social circumstances, transport and attendance benefits) and scheme factors (communication, social/staff support, individualisation and age appropriateness). Both genders valued the PARS. To increase uptake, adherence and PA, PARS should ensure timely, personalised communication, individualised, affordable PA and include mechanisms to re-engage those who disengage temporarily.
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Feb 2021|
- Exercise referral
- Mixed methods
- Physical activity
- Public health