A qualitative exploration of the experience and attitudes of exercise professionals using telehealth for people with mental illness

Grace McKeon, Caroline Fitzgerald, Bonnie Furzer, Simon Rosenbaum, Robert Stanton, Oscar Lederman, Sam Harvey, Kemi Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Purpose: Physical activity is an important component of treatment for people living with mental illness and exercise practitioners are well placed to deliver these interventions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lock-down regulations, exercise professionals have rapidly adapted to the online delivery of services to continue care for their clients. To date, the research surrounding the delivery of exercise sessions via telehealth for this population has been scarce.
Therefore, the current qualitative study sought to explore how exercise professionals working in mental health have adapted to telehealth, the barriers and facilitators they have experienced and the implications for the future. Design/Methodology/Approach: A qualitative study using semistructure interviews was conducted. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Findings: Nine exercise physiologists working in mental health settings in Australia participated in the interviews. Two main themes were explored. The first related to the implementation of telehealth and was divided into four sub-themes; i) service delivery, ii) accessibility and suitability, iii) technology barriers and facilitators, iv) adaptations to exercise prescription. The second theme related to attitudes and was categorised into two sub-themes; i) attitudes toward telehealth and ii) future recommendations. Practical implications: Telehealth appears to be a feasible and well accepted platform to deliver exercise sessions for people with mental illness and this study provides guidance for clinicians including service and training recommendations. Originality: This is the first study to examine the experiences of exercise physiologists working in mental health and using telehealth
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


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