Letters To The Editor-In-Chief
The AHA/ACSM Recommendations (1) aim to promote and foster routine cardiovascular screening of all new members and/or prospective users at all facilities offering exercise equipment or services. The Recommendations suggest, at the least, the use of the PAR-Q or the more comprehensive AHA/ACSM Health Fitness Facility Preparticipation Screening Questionnaire. These are both contained in the document. More importantly, they encourage that some systematic mechanism for screening takes place at all facilities. Screening tools should be appropriate for their client population. Proper interpretation of screening results with subsequent action, as outlined in the Recommendations, is integral to their successful implementation.
The questions used in the 1994 version of the PAR-Q differ only slightly from those of the 1992 version, which was provided in the Recommendations. The main focus of each question is quite similar in both versions. The 1994 version, when used in the format put forth by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (2), does provide additional direction to the respondent regarding what action to take after completion of the questionnaire. Such action directives are also present in the AHA/ACSM Questionnaire. Thus, no revision of the Recommendations is needed at this time. However, if the PAR-Q instrument is chosen to be the screening tool used by a health/fitness facility, the 1994 version would be preferable particularly in an unsupervised (Level 1) facility, which is without the advantage of staff-administered screening. The 1994 PAR-Q is presented in the ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (2).
As newer and better screening tools become available, we would encourage their appropriate use.
However, no questionnaire can serve as a surrogate for broad-based awareness and preparedness on the part of health/fitness facilities, health care providers, and consumers to ensure the promotion and implementation of safe and effective exercise.
Gary J. Balady, M.D.
Chairman, Writing Group
Professor of Medicine; Boston University School of Medicine
1. Balady, G. J., B. Chaitman, D. Driscoll,
et al. American College of Sports Medicine/American Heart Association Joint Scientific Statement: Recommendations for Cardiovascular Screening, Staffing, and Emergency Policies at Health/Fitness Facilities. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc.
2. American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Graded Exercise Testing, and Exercise Prescription
(5th ed.) Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1995, pp. 14-16. [/edit]