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Engaging the MS community on exercise services for those living in rural Australia

Learmonth, Y.C.ORCID: 0000-0002-4857-8480, Chan, Z., Scholes-Robertson, E., Correia, H., Hathorn, D., Kermode, A., Smith, C. and Walker, D. (2018) Engaging the MS community on exercise services for those living in rural Australia. International Journal of MS Care, 20 (s1). p. 95.

Free to read: https://doi.org/10.7224/1537-2073-20.s1.1
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Abstract

Background: Consumer engagement is vital in multiple sclerosis (MS) research to optimize outcomes for patients, society, and health care systems. Participation in exercise offers multiple benefits to per-sons with MS. Despite these benefits, few persons with MS engage in exercise behaviors. All stakeholders in the MS community must be engaged to identify potential solutions to this problem. Nonparticipation in exercise is often related to availability of services. Patients living in rural Australia represent a population who might not have access to metropolitan services and, thus, not have access to optimal patient care. It is important to understand experiences of this barrier and to identify potential solutions from all stakeholders. This will help target the direction of research to optimize clinical practice.

Objectives: To engage with the MS community and explore the experiences and services related to exercise delivered by professionals in rural Australia, and to understand what physical activity and exercise services members of the MS community prioritize and require to increase overall participation in exercise.

Methods: 38 participants representing four groups of the MS community who live in rural Australia engaged in focus group and interview discussions. The groups represented persons with MS (n = 14), carers (n = 8), health care professionals (n = 8), and managers/directors of health services (n = 8). Participants commented on new theories related to physical activity service delivery in rural Australia. Coding and thematic analysis was performed on the qualitative data.

Results: Analysis identified all stakeholders were aware of the benefits of exercise for those with MS; further, all stakeholders were aware of budgetary restrictions limiting clinical availability of exercise services. We identified similarities in the perspectives of persons with MS, carers, and health care providers, namely that 1) knowledge of accessible physical activity services is lacking and 2) motivation to engage in physical activity is driven by availability of services. Perspectives of managers/directors and health care professionals revealed the impact of recent legislative changes resulting in divisions of service delivery for persons with disabilities represented a barrier to optimal exercise delivery.

Conclusions: Exercise participation is important for persons living with MS, and engagement from the entire MS community is required to understand exercise service delivery. Multiple stakeholder groups hold unique information on barriers experienced by the patient with MS. Rural communities might better advertise generic exercise services to optimize patient engagement. When required, specialized guidance related to MS and exercise might be provided from a more central position, and it is important to allow for this in financial and legislative planning.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC)
Copyright: © 2018 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
Other Information: Abstract from the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/58445
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