Exercise is Medicine Canada: Early but important signs of the effectiveness of this national initiative


Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) is a national initiative aimed at increasing the number of health care providers (HCPs) assessing, counseling and prescribing physical-activity or exercise as part of routine health care visits. An integral component of this program is a national workshop campaign to educate and train primary HCPs on how to effectively use EIMC materials (i.e. prescription pad). Analyses of the immediate impact of these workshops shows HCPs reported improved confidence in their ability to prescribe physical-activity and view this professional development as valuable to their practice. The purpose of this session is to describe the EIMC initiative, review the initial impacts of the workshop series and present the first wave of follow-up evaluations completed 2-3 months post-workshop. Repeated measures MANOVA revealed HCPs report significant increases in confidence to discuss and prescribe physical-activity and exercise (p<.05) and knowledge of physical-activity counselling (p<.05). While the number of barriers to counsel appears to remain unchanged and high, their reported impact on providing physical-activity counselling is lower. HCPs report that the EIMC prescription pad is moderately helpful in discussing physical-activity; however, they also report using additional resources including: other experts, educational pamphlets, internet resources, and novel educational approaches with clients. The EIMC initiative represents a step forward in establishing physical-activity counseling as a routine part of health care visits in Canada. While implementation and evaluation challenges remain, these initial findings support the effectiveness of the initiative in changing the perceptions of HCPs in the short to medium term.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by funding from the Lawson Foundation