A qualitative evaluation of an exercise practitioner in an outpatient child and adolescent mental health service

Evan Matthews, Mary Cowman, Brian Mulhare, Elaine Banville, Sheila Kissane, Oscar Lederman, Paula Lowney, Fran Ronan, Suzanne Denieffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Physical activity interventions can confer a range of physical and mental health benefits among young people with mental disorders. In some contexts, such as Ireland, integrated physical activity is not easily available within child and adolescent mental health services. Therefore, an interagency pilot intervention was established in a child and adolescent mental health service in Ireland with the integration of a novel exercise practitioner into the multidisciplinary mental health team.

OBJECTIVE: A qualitative evaluation was conducted to understand the impact of the pilot intervention and to understand issues of implementation that arose throughout.

METHODS: In-depth qualitative interviews with service users' parents/guardians (N = 3) and a single focus group with existing service providers (N = 3), framed by the RE-AIM framework were conducted to evaluate the pilot intervention. Data were analysed using thematic analysis to explore themes.

RESULTS: Three overarching themes were identified. These were as follows: (i) Making changes toward healthier physical activity behaviours; (ii) An intervention of therapeutic holism; and (iii) The integrated service delivery.

CONCLUSIONS: This research provides insight on the value of a novel integrated exercise practitioner in outpatient young persons' mental health services in Ireland, indicating an enhanced and complimentary therapeutic service. These findings will be helpful for integrating Exercise Practitioners in this setting going forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-106
Number of pages5
JournalIrish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date14 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2024


  • Camhs
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity


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