Exploration of sedentary behaviour among general practitioners: protocol for a mixed methods study

Richard S. Mayne, Nigel D. Hart, Neil Heron


Background: Many general practitioners (GPs) are sedentary for most of their working day. Levels of sedentary behaviour may have been exacerbated by increased use of telemedicine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as this is traditionally performed while sitting down. Excessive sedentary behaviour is associated with many adverse health outcomes and increased all-cause mortality. This study will gain quantitative data on levels of sedentary behaviour among GPs and general practice specialty trainees (GPSTs), to identify to what extent general practice is a sedentary occupation, as well as qualitative data regarding the barriers and facilitators to reducing sedentary behaviour in the general practice setting.

Methods: The study follows a sequential, mixed-methods model. The first stage will involve the dissemination of a questionnaire survey, where participants self-estimate their sedentary behaviour on a working day and on a non-working day. The second stage will use thigh-worn accelerometers and a sleep/work log to obtain objective data regarding sedentary behaviour among a purposive subset of participants who responded to the questionnaire. The third stage will involve semi-structured interviews with a purposive subset of accelerometer study participants, analysed with the application of a theoretical framework regarding the acceptability of healthcare interventions.

Conclusions: This paper outlines a protocol for a sequential, mixed-methods study exploring sedentary behaviour among GPs and GPSTs. Findings of this study will shed light on the new ways of working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be relevant to clinicians working in similar primary care settings throughout the world.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04556695. Date of registration: 21st September 2020.



General practitioner, Primary care, Sedentary behaviour, Physical activity

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