Screening for physical activity levels using Scot-PASQ

The Scottish Physical Activity Screening Questionnaire (Scot-PASQ) provides a framework for meaningful physical activity conversations between health or social care professionals and people in their care. It helps identify how active someone is and informs what physical activity support is needed. It is the second step in the National Physical Activity Pathway.

Scot-PASQ has up to 3 questions, depending on the answers given after each one. Try different answers to question one to see how the questionnaire works.

Question 1 guidance

If the past week was not typical, please ask the person in your care to refer to a previous week to determine their usual amount of moderate exercise.

The intensity of physical activity must be enough to:

  • increase their heart rate
  • make them feel warmer
  • make them breathe a little faster.

The 'talk test' is a good way of measuring intensity. For example, if walking at a moderate intensity they would be able to carry on a conversation, taking a few extra breaths between sentences, but they would not be able to sing.

If the person is unable to sing, or needing to take breaths between words, they are likely to be doing vigorous physical activity. Every minute of vigorous activity equals 2 minutes of moderate activity.

If the person in your care does not manage a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least 5 days a week, they may not be meeting the guidelines.

Question 1: How many days in the past week have you been physically active for a total of 30 minutes or more? Physical activity may include walking or cycling for recreation or to get to and from places, gardening, and exercise or sport. The 30 minutes can be made up of more than one bout of activity. Remember vigorous activity counts for double.

Positive reinforcement

No further questions needed.

Give praise and encouragement.

  • You are meeting the national guidelines of at least 30 minutes of activity on 5 or more days a week.
  • Well done, keep it up!

Question 2 guidance

The Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) Physical Activity Guidelines state that adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity over the course of each week.

This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as:

  • 30 minutes moderate physical activity on most days of the week
  • A two and a half hour walk or cycle at the weekend
  • A combination of activity options equalling a minimum of 150 minutes.

The person in your care has at least 150 minutes of physical activity in total per week they are meeting the minimum guidlines. Remember vigourous activity (such as running) counts for double and 75 minutes over the week would be enough.

Question 2: If four days or less, have you been physically active for at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) over the course of the past week? Question two clarifies if the physical activity guidelines are being met. If someone reports moderate activity for 75 minutes or more on two days, then it is unlikely that they will require further support from the pathway.

Positive reinforcement

No further questions needed.

Give praise and encouragement.

  • You are meeting the national guidelines of at least 2 and a half hours each week.
  • Well done, keep it up!
Question 3: Are you interested in being more physically active? A person is deemed inactive if they do not meet the moderate physical activity guidelines. It is important to determine their readiness to change by asking if they are interested in being more physically active.

Bring the conversation to a close

For those not interested, encourage them to think about it in the future and hand them the physical activity advice leaflet.

You might say

  • It's fine if you don’t want to discuss this now - let us know if you change your mind.
  • Here's some information that you may want to consider.

Support depends on time available

As a minimum, say the following.

  • You should do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity at work or home, on at least five days of the week. This can be achieved in shorter bouts throughout the day or all 30 minutes at one time.
  • Try not to sit for long periods of time - move every hour or so.
  • Walking is an easy way to get started. This should be at a brisk pace; enough to make you feel warmer and breathe more deeply but without any discomfort.
  • You are more likely to remain physically active if you find an activity that you enjoy and that can fit into your everyday life.

Always provide a copy of the physical activity advice leaflet.

If time permits, you should also discuss one or more of the following, physical activity

  • Benefits
  • Barriers
  • solutions and how to build motivation.

Further areas of discussion for those who need it are

  • activity options and intensity
  • goal setting
  • building confidence
  • signposting to local physical activity support
  • relapse prevention.

Guidance on how to discuss physical activity more thoroughly is available on our person-centred physical activity advice page.

Data recording and monitoring

Those delivering the pathway should take a record of the screening conversation as part of their routine data recording for reference in future consultations and for reporting purposes.