Physical health of people with mental illness

The introduction of accredited exercise physiologists to NWMH Community Care Units (CCU): a mixed methods feasibility study

Project details

The physical health of people with severe mental illness remains a concern as the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and other co-existing conditions are higher within this group compared with the general population.

University trained accredited exercise physiologists can assess consumers’ physical health problems and commence, monitor, and progress evidence-based interventions that may target weight management, balance, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular functioning.

The aim of this study is to describe the impact and feasibility of the role in managing chronic physical health conditions through interventions based on exercise, physical health education, and supportive advice about healthy lifestyle choices.

This mixed methods study will quantify changes in physiological function and seek consumer, carer, and clinician feedback with focus groups and one-to-one interviews.

Research outcomes

  • Describe the processes of embedding the role within two NWMH CCU models of care (i.e. Norfolk Terrace and St Albans).
  • Identify the barriers and facilitators to implementation of the role.
  • Describe effects of the role in capacity building multidisciplinary staff in the beneficial management of chronic physical health conditions.
  • Describe impact of the role on physical health management of consumers’ physical health conditions


Dr Trentham Furness


  • Brian Jackson, Director of Nursing NWMH
  • Justin Offerman, Senior Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Melbourne Health
  • Professor Geraldine Naughton, School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Professor Kim Foster, Professor of Mental Health Nursing, NWMH & ACU


  • Australian Catholic University, School of Exercise Science


  • Roles internally funded by the St Albans and Norfolk Terrace Community Care Units