2019 MACH MRFF
Rapid Applied Research Translation
Successful Grants & Fellowships
Prof Nicola Lautenschlager
MACH Partners: Melbourne Health, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne
Project title: Physical activity guidelines implementation via information and communication technology for vulnerable older adults with poor cognitive and mental health living in the community
Summary: This project will investigate the benefits of physical activity for older people living with mental illness and develop practice guidance material for mental health practitioners when promoting behaviour change
About Prof Lautenschlager's Research Project
What is the problem you're trying to solve?
Older adults with poor mental and cognitive health are particularly vulnerable during self-isolation. Physical activity (PA) offers physical, cognitive and mental health benefits, and the Australian Government advises all self-isolating Australians to create a home-based exercise routine. PA guidelines for older adults are available, and there is an urgent need for implementation.
About this research translation project
The interim report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services recommended that mental health practitioners should provide integrated care that promotes behaviour change and a healthy lifestyle. This project seeks to empower vulnerable older adults and mental health practitioners with strategies to implement PA guidelines. To overcome self-isolation, we will use information and communication technologies (ICT). Older Australians are highly connected (i.e. >85% internet access).
Direct engagement with vulnerable older adults will provide crucial information regarding PA knowledge, preferences, and needs. Based on this information, we will develop a flexible intervention via personalised PA prescriptions to enable behaviour change. Pilot data from a small study in Germany (Lautenschlager et al., unpublished) found that ICT is a feasible and acceptable approach to provide individualised information and support to members in the community, including older adults. We will also contribute to the current global effort to collect data on the impact of COVID-19 enforced self-isolation on mental health.
Using data from the engagement with vulnerable older adults via ICT, we will consult with opinion leaders, clinicians and academics to develop practice guidance material for mental health practitioners when promoting physical activity behaviour change via ICT.
What will be the impact?
This research addresses significant knowledge gaps on how to empower older adults with mental health problems via ICT to engage in PA. The data generated will inform future implementation research aiming to support mental health practitioners and services to use ICT when engaging with vulnerable older adults in the community.