African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Factors influencing healthcare worker’s participation in physical activity in one public hospital in South Africa: Do healthcare workers have barriers to exercise?

L Skaal


The purpose of this study was to determine factors influencing healthcare workers‟ participation in physical activity (PA) in South Africa. This was a quantitative, cross-sectional study, with a sample size of 200 healthcare workers (HCWs)(100 Medical, 100 nonmedical staff) from one public tertiary hospital in Pretoria, South Africa. Data were collected using two methods: self-administered questionnaires (demographic characteristics; level of PA; and barriers to exercise) and anthropometric measures (Body weight, height and fitness level). Data were analyzed using SPSS 17.0. A descriptive statistical method was used to analyze frequencies and chi square test was used to determine level of significance of correlations between different variables and between medical and nonmedical staff. Binary logistic regression was used to determine the association between barriers, attitude, knowledge and PA stages. The majority of staff (73.5%) were overweight/ obese, with females being significantly overweight and obese (p<.05) compared to males. Seventy five percent (75%)of staff were at pre-action stages with more nonmedical staff at pre-action stages compared to medical staff (p<.05) and 81.5% had low fitness level. Eighty three percent (83%) of staff cited lack of motivationand57% of obese participants misclassified their bodyweight as normal weight. Both barriers and attitude were significant predictors of PA stages of staff (p=0.019 and 0.022; Odds ratios of 0.424 and 2.800 respectively) whereas knowledge was not a significant predictor (p=0.270; OR = 2.062). However, medical staff had generally good knowledge compared to nonmedical staff (p<.05) but both medical and nonmedical staff had positive attitude towards PA (p>.05). There is high prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity and many barriers exist among healthcare workers which influence their level of physical activity, irrespective of their gender, job categories and age. Employers should seek to eliminate the barriers that discourage use of worksite to increase level of PA.

Keywords: Participation in physical activity, barriers; healthcare workers.

AJOL African Journals Online