Utilizing a simple stimulus control strategy to increase physician referrals for physical activity promotion

Fabio A. Almeida, Renae L. Smith-Ray, Rain Van Den Berg, Patti Schriener, Mike Gonzales, Pierre Onda, Paul A. Estabrooks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Scopus citations


Within the busy clinic visit and multiple preventive guidelines to follow, the rate of physician referral for physical activity (PA) is disappointing. This study used an interrupted time-series design to determine the effect of a simple stimulus control strategy to increase physician referrals for PA when compared to standard care before and after exposure to the stimulus control intervention. The number of referrals (N = 218 total) per week was significantly higher during weeks when the stimulus control intervention was used (p < .01). Approximately 77% of participants referred during standard care weeks initiated a PA program while 67% of those referred during stimulus control weeks initiated PA. These rate differences were significant (p < .05). Nonetheless, the number of individuals who initiated PA was greater during stimulus control weeks than during usual care weeks (p < .05; 9.8 vs. 5.6), due to the larger total volume of referrals. We concluded that stimulus control interventions targeting physician referrals are a practical method for enhancing participation in PA programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-514
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005



  • Exercise
  • Intervention
  • Operant conditioning
  • Reach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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