The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Public health and physical activity

As a health professional, you have a responsibility to promote good health to every one of your patients.


Public health concerns itself with both illness prevention and the promotion of personal wellbeing. An emphasis on health promotion and physical activity is now central to government policy across the UK and can attract significant service investment. This new focus presents huge opportunities for physiotherapy staff.

The CSP will be launching a new physical activity resource for members later on this year. It will help physio staff prescribe physical activity and design services that support behavioural change.

Defining public health

The science and art of promoting and protecting health and wellbeing, preventing ill health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society

Faculty of Public Health

Public health has three aspects:

  • health improvement – enabling people to better their own health and wellbeing
  • health protection – ensuring the integrity of environmental factors and preventing the transmission of communicable diseases
  • improving services – establishing systematic provision to do both of the above effectively

With unique skills, physiotherapy has an invaluable contribution to make in each of these areas, creating huge opportunities for the profession.

Do your bit to improve public health

Remember to incorporate prevention and health promotion advice into your everyday clinical practice – make every contact count. At the same time, you can also use your clinical knowledge of the causes and processes of disease to educate people on how best to avoid them.

More generally, do also use opportunities to market your physio-specific abilities to other clinical professionals and local decision makers. And use the suggestions below for ideas on getting started:

Ways in which you can help


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Making Every Contact Count

Use MECC to help people make healthier choices to achieve positive long-term behaviour change. Get help supporting local implementation with dedicated guidance:

Access MECC resources

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Weight management

Obese individuals often have complex biopsychosocial barriers to physical activity participation. Physios are uniquely positioned to facilitate physical activity required for weight management in these patients.

Evidence briefing on obesity

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Self-help public health

Put your patients onto the government's self-help, public health website which has resources covering eating, drinking, moving, sleep and stress, and a self-assessment quiz.

Access OneYou

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Chronic conditions

The Fit for Work Coalition has produced a 'My plan for life' guide to help people with chronic conditions better manage their own care, including the possibility of returning to work.

Download 'My plan for life'

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Avoiding diseases

The World Health Professions Alliance has produced a tool to inform individuals on positive behaviour and lifestyle changes to avoid chronic or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Access the Health Improvement Card

File 190908Smoking cessation

It is part of all healthcare professionals' roles to ask people they treat if they smoke, and offer advice on how to stop, including physiotherapy. The BMJ offers online guidance to help:

Brief advice on smoking

Further learning

iCSP Public Health network

Sign up to the iCSP Public Health network, to receive regular policy, events and publications updates.

Physiotherapy Works

The CSP has already produced a number of Physiotherapy Works briefings pertaining to public health, including:

Free BMJ e-learning

The BMJ has produced a number of e-learning modules, some of which are free of charge once you have registered on their website:


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