Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exercise and Clinical Practice: Integration Issues and Knowledge in Mental Health Professionals
by Arfa, Katie J., Psy.D., Alliant International University, 2017, 157; 10634172
Abstract (Summary)

Decades of research attest to the psychological benefits of exercise, documenting improved psychological functioning for specific disorders as well as biological systems. Notable trends include reduction of psychological symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression), increases in self-esteem, facilitation of neurogenesis, enhancement of cognitive functioning, and improvements in stress response. The majority of these studies call for increased utilization of exercise interventions within clinical practice. However, decades of exercise research and the two existing studies on practice habits suggest that exercise continues to be widely underutilized. The data suggest that clinicians believe exercise is beneficial; they report high confidence and rates of utilization in exercise interventions; however, they also report low levels of education in exercise psychology. It was hypothesized that one possible cause for this persistent research-practice gap may be mental health professionals' (MHPs) misperceptions of their own competence, namely the Dunning-Kruger phenomenon. Methods: An original, electronic survey was disseminated to MHPs via email, social media posting, and snowball sampling. Eighty-three clinicians completed the survey, which collected data on beliefs and practice habits; perceptions of confidence and competence; and research knowledge. Results: Findings supported previous observations, documenting high levels of confidence amongst MHPs despite low levels of exercise education. Knowledge of research was poor; data suggest that the Dunning-Kruger phenomenon is a factor in the ongoing research-practice gap within exercise psychology. Conclusions: This is the first study to measure fact-based competence of MHPs and offer an explanation for the longstanding underutilization of exercise. Findings suggest that clinicians may be at risk for overestimating their own abilities in areas that are less familiar. Further research is needed regarding MHPs’ exercise-related competence in order to elucidate the complex nature of factors examined here.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: O'Callaghan, Erin T.
Commitee: Murray, Joan
School: Alliant International University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Health sciences, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Clinical practice, Competence, Dunning-kruger, Exercise, Intervention, Mental health professionals
Publication Number: 10634172
ISBN: 978-0-355-31130-3
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