Outcomes and experiences of participants of the Activity Based Experience (ABE) Programme at Richmond Services Limited: a mixed methods study
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Objectives: Evidence suggests that physical activity reduces symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression, however, very little research has been published about service user’s experiences with physical activity interventions. The ABE Programme is a client-centred, individualised physical activity intervention for people with mental illness delivered by non-government organisation Richmond Services Limited. The objectives of this study were to investigate service users’ outcomes, experiences, barriers to physical activity and contributing factors for physical activity adherence, to make recommendations for health policy, community development, service improvements and further research. Methods: An explanatory concurrent mixed methods design was applied: for the quantitative component a simple quasi-experimental reversal study to analyse participants’ physical (blood pressure, body weight), mental (self-esteem, mental well-being) measures, physical activity level and smoking status; for the qualitative component a descriptive study conducting semi-structured interviews with participants of the programme. Results: Thirty assessment results were available for the quantitative data analysis. Self-esteem, mental well-being and physical activity levels showed significant improvements, whereas physical measurements and smoking status showed no changes. Thirteen interviews were conducted. Qualitative findings reinforced and enhanced quantitative results. Participants’ experiences were physical, psychological and social. Support was important to overcome barriers. Multiple factors contributed to maintaining physical activity. Clients made suggestions related to the support, structure and contents of the programme. Conclusions: The ABE Programme contributes to the improvements of participants’ mental and physical well-being. Professional support is crucial. Improvements are recommended regarding follow-up support, group activities and evidence-based physical activity adherence methods. Emphasis for policy should be on early intervention, collaboration between services and physical activity promotion approaches on multiple levels. Further research is recommended, for example, to develop efficient and cost-effective physical activity adherence approaches. Future research could include single subject studies, surveys and focus groups studies within Richmond and across the wider mental health sector.