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Green prescriptions in Oppegård


Detailed description of the Good Practice

Doctors in Norway normally have two prescription pads on their desks - a blue one for essential medicines which are subsidised, and a white one for non-essential medicines which patients must pay for themselves. Now, doctors in Oppegård south of Oslo have got a third, green pad. The green forms are used to prescribe physical exercise or social activities. The green prescription concept has sprung out of Oppegård’s Local Agenda 21. The idea is to get doctors and physiotherapists to write prescriptions that will encourage people to take better care of their health. "People’s health is affected by a lot more than what health professionals can offer", says municipal project leader Ellen Dingstad Mellum.


Objectives of the Good Practice

The idea is to get doctors and physiotherapists to write prescriptions that will encourage people to take better care of their health.

Participants of the Good Practice

doctors in Oppegård

Target group of the Good Practice


More Details of the Good Practice

The doctors may prescribe anything from swimming to joining a hiking group or a club where you can meet others with similar ailments. There is also a watercolour painting course for people with mental problems. The whole community is regarded as a health resource. For patients who lead passive lives, more activity can often do more good than medicines.

Before the scheme was launched in November of 2001, municipal authorities had several rounds of discussions with local doctors. In addition to the green pads, it prepared a booklet listing available activities and community groups, which was distributed to doctors and physiotherapists. It contains some 200 suggestions, under headings such as "Social networks and meeting-places", "Sports and exercise", "Music" and "Ethnic groups".

"The booklet is an important resource for us doctors", says general practicioner Kåre Solvang of the Trollåsen Medical Centre. "The green prescriptions are intended to be a kind of contract between doctor and patient, so that patients become more motivated for new activities", says Ellen Dingstad Mellum. A survey in the spring of 2003 showed that 63 % of doctors in Oppegård had started using the green prescriptions, although some of them found the booklet even more useful than the prescriptions as such.

Oppegård has joined a public health network with three other municipalities in Akershus County plus the county authorities, and is pushing for more communities to adopt the green prescription concept. The Norwegian Department of Health has also started using the term "green prescriptions", but in a distinctly narrower sense. They are suggesting that doctors should prescribe physical exercise as an antidote to hypertension and diabetes 2, whereas the Oppegård concept emphasises social and cultural activities at least as strongly, as "medicine" for a much broader range of problems.

Documentation and documents

Stiftelsen Idebanken http://idebanken.no

Available files

Contact details

Ellen Dingstad Mellum
Oppegård Municipality
AddressPb. 510, N-1411 Kolbotn
Telephone+47-66 81 90 90
Telefax+47-66 81 89 89

Data sources and references

Stiftelsen Idebanken http://idebanken.no/english/Goodexamples/hoved.html (Accessed April 13, 2009)