Change in interventionists' movement behaviours through delivery of a peer-led support program for students with anxiety and depression: Impact of the prescription exercise at Queen's program


The Prescription Exercise at Queen's (PE-Q) program was implemented to address Queen's University students' poor mental health and physical activity (PA) participation. The PE-Q program provides students with symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression the opportunity to participate in a PA program delivered by interventionists (i.e., personal trainers and Peer Health Educator mentors). Interventionists received training on the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines (24HMGs) for adults, enabling them to provide support for all movement behaviours. An evaluation was conducted to determine whether involvement in the PE-Q program impacted interventionists' movement behaviours and thoughts towards the 24HMGs as a tool for both personal and professional use. A pre-post observational study design was employed, and interventionists completed pre- (n=14), post- (n=10), and follow-up (n=9) online questionnaires. While no statistically significant difference in thoughts about using the 24HMGs was observed, interventionists reported changes in movement behaviours, with a significant (t = 3.06, p = 0.02) increase in total weekly minutes of PA from pre to follow-up, and a significant (t = 4.36, p = 0.002) decrease in daily minutes of sedentary behaviour from pre to follow-up. Interventionist feedback included comments on how their involvement not only helped program participants but impacted their own behaviours as well. Recognizing the change in movement behaviours of PE-Q interventionists can help inform the development of future peer-led university health programs, as healthier interventionists will serve as better peer role models for program participants. Future intervention evaluations should monitor the extent of 24HMGs discussion in peer-led sessions.

Acknowledgments: We respectfully acknowledge the opportunity we have to study and conduct research at Queen's University on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee land, recognizing the Indigenous Peoples who lived, and continue to live, on the sacred land.