What knowledge and skills are weight loss clients learning from personal trainers, dieticians, and health behavior counselors?
Jesse Michel, West Virginia University, USA
Theme: Exercise and health behaviors
Program ID: SYM-07
Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am
Researchers focusing on evidence-based strategies for lifelong physical activity and mental health (e.g., Wadden, Webb, Moran, & Bailer, 2012) have recommended weight management programs provide the following services: Nutrition, physical activity, and behavioral therapy. To better understand what participants learn from their meetings with these professionals, researchers surveyed participants after six months in a community-based weight management program to assess the benefits of working with a Personal Trainer, Registered Dietician, and Health Behavior Counselor. A total of 958 participants were recruited in monthly cohorts beginning September 2011. Average monthly response rates are good, ranging typically from 50-70%. Qualitative analysis was completed on the following survey item: “Please tell us what you found to be most helpful from your meetings with your [insert health professional]”. Responses (n = 1872) from 567 completed surveys were reviewed by three members of the research team using an inductive analysis approach. A codebook with specific definitions for each raw theme and higher order grouping was used to guide the analysis. Researchers first coded the raw data independently, and then shared results with team members until 75% agreement was reached. This method allowed for triangulation of the data across researchers, and the data was also triangulated across health professionals (Patton, 1999). Results indicate participants benefitted from gaining knowledge, learning new behavioral skills, or from interpersonal interactions. Interpersonal responses (40.6%) and knowledge (31.4%) represented the majority of all data coded, while behavioral skills represented 9.7% of the data. The specific results from this study suggest that health behavior counselors are primarily appreciated for the encouragement and support they provide, and that sport and exercise psychology students services are valued by this population.