Open Access Research article

Perceived need to increase physical activity levels among adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes. A cross-sectional analysis within a community-based diabetes prevention project FIN-D2D

Kati Vähäsarja1*, Sanna Salmela1, Jari Villberg1, Pauli Rintala2, Mauno Vanhala345, Timo Saaristo67, Markku Peltonen8, Sirkka Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi10119, Eeva Korpi-Hyövälti12, Urho M Kujala1, Leena Moilanen13, Leo Niskanen1415, Heikki Oksa167 and Marita Poskiparta1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, 40014, Finland

2 Department of Sport Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, 40014, Finland

3 Family Practice Unit, Central Hospital Central Finland, Jyväskylä, 40620, Finland

4 Family Practice Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, 70210, Finland

5 University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, 70211, Finland

6 Finnish Diabetes Association, Tampere, 33680, Finland

7 Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, 33680, Finland

8 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, 00271, Finland

9 Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, 90014, Finland

10 Unit of General Practice, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, 90220, Finland

11 Health Centre of Oulu, Oulu, 90100, Finland

12 Department of Internal Medicine, Seinäjoki Central Hospital, Seinäjoki, 60220, Finland

13 Department of Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, 70210, Finland

14 Department of Medicine, Central Hospital Central Finland, Jyväskylä, 40014, Finland

15 University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, 70211, Finland

16 Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, 33521, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:514  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-514

Published: 10 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Increased physical activity is a cornerstone of type 2 diabetes prevention. The perception of a need to change is considered essential in behaviour change processes. However, the existing literature on individuals’ perceived need to change health behaviour is limited. In order to improve understanding of diabetes prevention through increased physical activity levels (PAL), we assessed factors associated with perceiving a need to increase PAL among adults at high risk of diabetes.

Methods

Opportunistic screening was used within a primary-care based lifestyle intervention covering 10 149 men and women at high risk of type 2 diabetes. Data were obtained at baseline visits. The explored determinants were demographic, anthropometric/clinical, behavioural and psychosocial characteristics, along with four categories of PAL awareness. Logistic regression was used in the analysis.

Results

74% of men (n = 2 577) and 76% of women (n = 4 551) perceived a need to increase their PAL. The participants most likely to perceive this need were inactive, had a larger waist circumference, rated their PAL as insufficient, and were at the contemplation stage of change. Smoking, elevated blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, and a family history of diabetes were not associated with this perception. The likelihood was also greater among women with less perceived fitness and less education. Demographic factors other than education did not determine participants’ perceived need to increase PAL. PAL overestimators were less likely to perceive the need to increase their PAL than realistic inactive participants.

Conclusions

Subjective rather than objective health factors appear to determine the perception of a need to increase PAL among adults at high risk of diabetes. Client perceptions need to be evaluated in health counselling in order to facilitate a change in PAL. Practical descriptions of the associations between metabolic risk factors, PAL, and diabetes are needed in order to make the risk factors concrete for at-risk individuals.

Keywords:
Physical activity; Exercise; Behaviour change; Perception; Awareness; Type 2 diabetes; Prevention; FIN-D2D; Lifestyle intervention