BACKGROUND: The positive influence of physical activity (PA) on health is well documented. Even at old age, PA remains useful but participation in PA decreases with age. In long-term care facilities (LTCFs), PA appears to be reduced to a bare minimum. Because administrators have a key role in developing the care policy of LTCFs, it is important that they support the organization of PA in LTCFs.

OBJECTIVE: The main objective of this mixed-method study was to identify motivators and barriers for organizing PA in LTCFs according to administrators. A secondary goal was to examine the knowledge of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines regarding PA and to reveal potential motivators and barriers for the implementation of the guidelines.

METHODS: First, 24 administrators completed semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed using the deductive approach of qualitative content analysis. The obtained motivators and barriers were categorized on 3 different levels (intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community) according to the socioecological model by 2 independent reviewers; conflicts were resolved with a third researcher. Next, 127 administrators of Flemish (Belgium) LTCFs completed an online questionnaire survey containing open-ended, unique, and multiple choice questions regarding the LTCFs, PA, and the WHO guidelines, as well as statements (scored on a 5-point Likert scale) regarding perceived motivators and barriers for organizing PA sessions in the LTCF.

RESULTS: In the qualitative component, the administrators reported 31 motivators and 24 barriers for organizing PA in the LTCF. In the survey, maintaining or enhancing general health of the residents (98%) and improving the psychological well-being of the residents were marked as key motivators at the intrapersonal level. The administrators (97%) were convinced that PA is a useful way to spend time for LTCF residents. Encouraging social contact (94%) and countering loneliness (86%) are the motivators cited at the interpersonal level. At the community level, the infrastructure of the facility (91%) and adequate and sufficient material (88%) are the main motivators. The barriers that were presented to the participants were scored as less important. The majority of the administrators (83%) are not familiar with the WHO guidelines for PA; 70% of the participants believe that the guidelines are useful, but only 40% is convinced that it is realistic to implement the guidelines in an LTCF.

CONCLUSIONS: This study described different motivators and barriers for administrators to organize PA in LTCFs. Contrary to other studies, lack of staff, lack of adequate equipment, and lack of financial resources were rejected as potential barriers for organizing PA. Despite the fact that administrators were not familiar with the WHO guidelines for PA, they believed that the guidelines are useful. The participants reported several barriers for implementation of the guidelines. Administrators of LTCFs are motivated to implement the guidelines if PA can be integrated in daily activities and education of LTCF staff regarding PA is provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number1
Early online date29 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 11270481