The Stride program: Study protocol for an on-campus physical activity referral program for tertiary students’ experiencing mental health challenges

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstract/Meeting Abstractpeer-review


Background: Tertiary students experience high levels of mental health challenges, and there is a recognition that appropriate on-campus support is important for assisting students’ well-being. However, it has been highlighted that there are areas of growth on university campuses in Australia to provide best practice support for students’ psychological wellbeing. One area of growth is the addition of a physical activity (PA) to support mental health challenges as an adjunct service on campuses. However, more research is needed to understand the effectiveness, acceptability, and sustainability of implementing a PA program on-campus. Methods: Stride is a free 12-week exercise program at the University of Western Australia (UWA) offered to students to support their mental health. It is a referral-based program that complements other established treatment pathways. Stride includes a pre- and post-program assessment led by the program coordinator, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. The coordinator then matches students (called mentees) with Stride mentors, who are trained Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology students. Stride is person-centred, providing mentees with autonomy regarding their exercise goals and preferences. This evaluation will assess the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of the Stride program using a mixed-methods convergent design. The primary outcome will assess pre-to-post-program changes in mental health symptomatology. Changes in PA, nutrition, quality of life, student engagement and identity, physiological markers, and self-efficacy are secondary outcomes. Discussion: Currently, few programs exist worldwide delivering physical activity to students experiencing mental health problems. The preliminary results of PA programs are indicating improved mental health symptomatology for students. However, the implementation of PA programs on-campus will add further significance through four distinct future research directions. The research directions include the optimisation of program components, best practice operational structure for future PA programs, beginning to understand PA program effectiveness, and informing future randomised control trials. Conflict of interest statement: My co-authors and I acknowledge that we have no conflict of interest of relevance to the submission of this abstract.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S69-S70
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numberS69-S70
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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