Nearly a quarter of all U.S. adults — over 54 million people—have arthritis. Physical activity can delay the onset of arthritis-related disability, but patients may not know this. A recommendation for exercise from a trusted provider may increase patients’ exercise, but providers may not make referrals due to lack of time, comfort, or the perception or more pressing issues. Interventions are needed to increase providers’ role in prescribing exercise as medicine.
KDHRC was tapped by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to create a toolkit for state health departments that are part of the CDC Arthritis Program. The toolkit strives to increase health care providers’ physical activity counseling with their patients with arthritis by educating providers on the importance of physical activity; persuading providers of the value of their recommendation; and creating dissemination materials to promote adoption of the toolkit’s recommendations.
To create a high impact toolkit, we conducted research to establish the toolkit’s evidence base. Focus groups helped us elucidate providers’ barriers and facilitators to prescribing exercise. An online survey explored visible messaging channels. Subject matter expert reviews ensured accuracy of the content and resonance of the messaging. A usability session explored how healthcare providers would use the materials in real life.
The toolkit was launched to 13 pilot sites and KDHRC conducted webinars to train health departments in the use of the toolkit. Future waves will extend the reach and dissemination of the toolkit nationwide.