Exercise Professionals: Barriers And Facilitators To Working With Stroke Survivors
Stroke survivors (SSs) are largely inactive despite the benefits of exercise. Community-based exercise professionals (EPs) skilled in exercise prescription and personal motivation may have a role to play in promoting exercise for SSs. However, little is known about EPs’ opinions towards working with SSs. Aims: To investigate EPs’ opinions towards working with SSs.
To identify EPs’ barriers and facilitators towards working with SSs and to investigate their relationship with EPs education on stroke. To investigate EPs skills, interest and experience working with SSs. Methods: A descriptive study was conducted using an online survey designed by the researcher. Purposive sampling was used to survey EPs on the Register of Exercise Professionals in Ireland (n=277). Descriptive and interferential statistics were calculated.
The response rate was 31.4% (87/277). Barriers identified by EPs included the level of supervision SSs require (56.2%; 41/73), a scarcity of suitable equipment for SSs (68.4%; 50/73) and information on psychological problems post stroke (83.5%; 61/73). Facilitators identified included the availability of training courses (93%; 66/71) including theory (94.4%, 67/71) and practical (100%; 71/71) training on stroke and having suitable equipment (97.2%; 67/71) for SSs. EPs who had not completed education on stroke were statistically significantly more likely to agree with barriers related to not having a disability-related policy, lack of information on psychological problems post stroke and lack of experience. Only 22.1% (19/86) of EPs had experience with SSs. Seventy six percent (58/76) of EPs were interested in one-to-one exercise with SSs but only 52.6% (40/76) were interested in group exercise. EPs reported having good skills in motivating (81.6%; 62/76) and communicating (68.5%; 52/76) with SSs but 40.7% (31/76) reported poor skills in providing group exercise sessions for SSs.
Conclusion and Implications of Findings:
EPs are interested in working with SSs despite their lack of experience and the barriers they face. Training opportunities for EPs should to be developed to facilitate EPs work with SSs.