Are general practitioners sitting too comfortably? Exploring sedentary behaviour among general practitioners

  • Richard S. Mayne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Medicine


General practitioners (GPs) have high levels of patient contact and are often the first port of call for members of the general population when they would like to discuss their health. GPs can therefore play an influential role in encouraging people to improve their lifestyle choices, such as through increased physical activity. However, general practice is primarily a desk-based job, which may lead to GPs having excessive sedentary behaviour. This can be detrimental to their own health, as well as their ability to counsel patients on healthy lifestyle choices. This research project aimed to identify the current levels of sedentary behaviour among GPs, and how this is affecting their health and wellbeing. A narrative literature review describes what is already known about sedentary behaviour and physical activity, with particular focus on GPs. Subsequently, a systematic review was undertaken to assess current evidence regarding sedentary behaviour among GPs. Following this, a cross-sectional study was conducted where questionnaire and accelerometer data were gathered to determine current levels of sedentary behaviour among GPs. A subsequent semi-structured interview study of 13 GPs investigated their thoughts and perspectives on sedentary behaviour and physical activity. The qualitative study revealed that many GPs felt frustrated by their lack of physical activity and excessive levels of sedentary time on workdays. Excessive workload was identified as a key contributor to their inability to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour on workdays, with many participants reporting feelings of burnout and fatigue. Given that feelings of burnout and fatigue can be reduced by increasing physical activity, an exploratory accelerometer-measured feasibility study was conducted which examined the relationship between GP movement behaviours with burnout and fatigue. This involved gathering more accelerometer data examining movement behaviours among GPs, as well as questionnaire data regarding their levels of burnout and fatigue.

Date of AwardDec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsGP Academic & Research Training Scheme
SupervisorNeil Heron (Supervisor) & Nigel Hart (Supervisor)


  • General practice
  • sedentary behaviour
  • physical activity

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