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


  • Richard S. Mayne Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9843-678X
  • Nigel D. Hart Centre for Medical Education, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Neil Heron Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom




General practitioner, Primary care, Sedentary behaviour, Physical activity


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.


Author Biography

Richard S. Mayne, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom

General Practice Academic Clinical Fellow, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Queen's University Belfast


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