University of Tasmania School of Health Sciences researcher Andrew Williams wants to encourage general practitioners (GPs) to use ‘tailored exercise regimes’ as one of their prescriptions for health issues.

Dr Williams is one of six University of Tasmania College of Health and Medicine recipients in the latest round of 2018 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants and hopes to help address the stress on the health system from chronic disease, with exercise.

The project will design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a series of tools aimed at addressing the barriers to GPs recommending exercise as a treatment including: a lack of understanding of how to prescribe exercise to patients; lack of time within standard consultations and dealing with patient expectations regarding the doctor treating them rather than providing self-management guidance.

Exercise is medicine and GPs are ideally placed to promote the benefits of regular exercise to their patients.

“There is great capacity for GPs to influence physical activity and reduce the burden of chronic disease but despite this, advice about exercise is not often provided in GP consultations,” Dr Williams said.

It is hoped this research will ultimately increase the use of exercise by GPs as a medical treatment.

Dr Williams is an Associate Professor, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and coordinator of the Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (Professional Honours) in the School of Health Sciences.

A former National Director and Research Committee Chair for Exercise & Sports Science Australia, he also served on the Primary Health Tasmania Social Determinants of Health Steering Group.

Dr Williams said the NHMRC fellowship funding was a great boost to both his research area and his further development as a researcher.

“This fellowship will enable me to devote the necessary time to address the important problem of how to encourage GPs to consider and prescribe exercise as a primary and secondary prevention measure,” he said.

“As a researcher it will also provide me with professional development opportunities in public health management and effective translation of research findings into clinical practice.”

Ultimately I hope the outcome of this work will be increased use of exercise as a treatment by GPs resulting in a reduced burden on the health system from chronic disease.

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About Dr Andrew Williams

Dr Andrew Williams is an Associate Professor, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and coordinator of the Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (Professional Honours) in the School of Health Sciences.

View Dr Andrew Williams's full researcher profile