Physical activity advice in primary care: call for evidence - effectiveness review

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is undertaking a partial update of its public health guidance on ‘Four commonly used methods to increase physical activity’ (PH2). This update will focus on the ‘brief advice in primary care’ recommendations for adults and will:

  • make use of current evidence to provide greater detail on how brief advice can be incorporated more routinely in primary care
  • have an additional focus on the role of local infrastructure and systems in supporting delivery of brief advice
  • consider mental wellbeing as an outcome.

Brief advice comprises: verbal advice, discussion, negotiation or encouragement, with or without written or other support or follow-up. It could be opportunistic and can typically take from less than a minute to up to 20 minutes. It can vary from basic advice to a more extended, individually-focused discussion. The advice might be delivered in a GP surgery, health centre or other primary care setting. It may also be delivered by primary care professionals in other settings (for example, a residential home).

Examples of local infrastructure and systems might include: structured arrangements such as scheduled annual health checks; ‘triggers’ in computerised patient records; incentive schemes for professionals such as the ‘Quality and outcomes framework’.  

More details can be found in the final scope for this guidance update at ph44

An evidence review and an economic analysis are being conducted to help to address the key questions in the scope. We would like to receive details of evidence that relates to these questions:

  • Question 1: What types of brief advice are effective and cost effective in promoting physical activity in primary care? Does the method of delivery, type of advice and person delivering the advice influence the effectiveness and/or cost effectiveness of the intervention?  
  • Question 2:What type of local infrastructure and systems support effective and cost effective delivery of brief advice on physical activity in primary care?
  • Question 3:What are the barriers to, and facilitators for, the delivery of brief advice on physical activity in primary care?
  • Question 4:What are the barriers to, and facilitators for, the uptake of brief advice on physical activity in primary care?

We are interested in a broad range of different types of evidence. This includes quantitative or qualitative research, published or unpublished.

In terms of published material, we are interested in identifying studies that have been published since 1990 that relate to the questions outlined above. The studies may be published in journals, texts or monographs.

In terms of unpublished material, we are interested in identifying unpublished manuscripts relating to research conducted since 1990, or any ongoing research that is being conducted, and which relates to the review questions outlined above. 

Instructions for published material

Please send either full reference details (which are to include author/s, title, date, journal or publication details including volume and issue number and page numbers) - not a PDF/WORD attachment or hard copy - using this form by 30 March 2012 to

Instructions for unpublished material

If you are aware of trials/ongoing research relevant to our questions which are in progress please could you help us to identify that information by providing relevant information such as a link to a registered trial with the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Clinical Trials), or with the US National Institutes of Health trials registry.  

If you wish to submit academic in confidence material (i.e. written but not yet published), or commercial in confidence (i.e. internal documentation), please could you highlight which sections are confidential by using the highlighter function in Word.

Please use this form to send in any relevant evidence details by 30 March 2012 to

We look forward to receiving information on this and thank you in advance for your help.

Please note: we are not interested in research that concerns ‘exercise referral schemes’, schemes that encourage physical activity (for example, walking and cycling schemes), or advice given in the context of specific conditions (that is, tertiary prevention[1]).

[1] Tertiary prevention aims to limit the complications and disabilities that result from a condition, reduce the severity and progression of disease or provides rehabilitation.

This page was last updated: 05 March 2012