Interview of the GUF-Team with Prof. Axel Schaefer, who works at the Faculty of Social Work and Health, University of Applied Science and Art (HAWK) in Hildesheim, Germany. Prof. Schaefer’s main research is in Physiotherapy, in particular focussing on the areas Musculoskeletal Health, Chronic Pain, eHealth and Movement Analysis.
How did you find out about the EUPAP project?
As a trained physiotherapist and professor of physiotherapy, I have been interested in physical activity promotion and evidence based practice for some time. Evidence based practice is indeed one of my main areas of teaching at the university. I learned about the EUPAP project through research on the evidence of physical activity promotion, and had the chance to be in the Working Group “Physical Activity Promotion in Daily Life” of the German Federal Ministry of Health, where the project was presented by the team of the GoetheUniversity, Frankfurt. I was happy to establish an exchange with the team.
What did you find interesting about the project and the Swedish model of Physical Activity on Prescription?
Three aspects in particular were relevant for me. Firstly, the interdisciplinary approach in which the most diverse actors in health care are involved. Secondly, it is the person-centred care approach that is implemented in the PAP model and which integrates various behaviour-oriented approaches. Finally, the PAP model has already been evaluated in different settings for different health problems in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
You also participated at the PAP-S training. How did you find it?
All in all the training was good. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, it was held online, and I think this format was not optimal for an in-depth exchange and for testing components of the PAP process - especially against the background that the event was supposed to support the implementation. Nevertheless, the trainers made the best of the situation. A very positive aspect of the training was the insight into the specifics and status quo of physical activity promotion in the different European countries, which was possible thanks to the participation of colleagues from many different countries. Such “insider knowledge” can be very informative but less available in scientific literature.
What are the special features of physical activity counselling in Germany from the perspective of a physiotherapy professor?
Physiotherapists are predestined to implement physical activity promotion on a broad scale due to their training, their health care mandate and their contact with risk groups in health care. Physiotherapists also see this as their responsibility. However, currently there is room for improvement. There are still some qualification deficits, as behaviour-oriented therapeutic measures, motivation and counselling are not yet comprehensively incorporated in the core curricula. Here, there is a need for further curricular development in order to be able to exploit the potential of physiotherapy for the promotion of physical activity. In the form of electives, however, it is possible to include this topic into the curriculum. I have not only introduced this subject into my courses, but also initiated student led projects. Students are open and very receptive to this approach, which makes me optimistic that the new generation of physiotherapists will not only be well placed, but also well qualified to offer evidence based physical activity counselling.