Our award-winning health programme was chosen by the university’s researchers to examine if gender differences had an effect on uptake, adherence and experience of physical activity referral schemes.
Physical activity referral schemes like ours, support people living with conditions such as diabetes, COPD, obesity, heart disease, cancer and dementia and usually see participants referred by health care clinicians. Currently we self-fund the programme and records around 3,900 attendances a month.
The findings of the research, which were featured in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, are now being used by the trust to modify its programme so that it better meets the needs of locals who are referred onto its health programme.
The university’s researchers interviewed 136 people by telephone prior to attending the health programme, at 12 weeks and then one year after participation. The results show that men and women valued the scheme equally, and that adherence to the programme was not determined by gender, but living in an affluent area. Those living in more deprived areas were more likely to be negatively impacted by social circumstances, health and transport.
The findings also showed that the health programme was effective in delivering and increasing participation in physical activity. Although the reasons for the university study were related to wider themes of participation on physical activity referral schemes generally, we are using the findings to take actions to improve uptake, adherence and engagement according to factors such as gender, affordability and age for our programme.
John Brand from Cupar, who attends classes at Cupar Leisure Centre with his wife Martha, said: “Since we got back to classes three months ago, we are feeling the benefits already. The classes are great for overall health and it’s great to see fellow class members again.”
Duloch Leisure Centre class participant, Linda Dixon from Dunfermline, said: “I took part in the Zumba online classes during lockdown which was great but It's so much more enjoyable being back at class using equipment. I do a Monday and a Thursday Active Options class, the classes are very sociable and a chance to catch up with everyone every week. It gives my week structure and is delivered with a person-centred approach allowing me to do what I can manage.”
Fiona Prendergast, wellbeing and programming manager, explained: “We were very pleased to have been chosen to take part in this very useful study – although we have good attendance levels and positive feedback from participants, we are grateful that as a consequence of being used in the study, we can use the findings to improve our programme.
“The trust’s health programme has been shown to significantly improve people’s health and wellbeing outcomes following participation in our instructor-led sessions – they report improvement in health conditions, improved balance, strength and mobility, weight loss and sometimes, decreased medication use – all of which positively impact on front line health services.
“However, in order to action some of the report’s findings such as improved and personalised communication with participants, greater individualised physical activity, targeted support for people on lower incomes and sessions catering for under 65s, we need to secure additional funding to help deliver programme enhancements.
“We will be working hard to develop the health programme in order to meet our charitable objectives of making a difference to local communities.”