Ms Amanda Semaan

Associate Lecturer, Work Integrated Learning

C43J - J Block Cumberland Campus
The University of Sydney


Thesis work

Thesis title: Knowledge and attitudes of exercise physiology students to the mental health sector.

Supervisors: Simon ROSENBAUM, Jacqueline RAYMOND , Belinda KENNY

Thesis abstract:

It is widely recognised that there is a significant decrease in life expectancy for individuals with a severe mental illness compared with that of the Australian population (Lawrence, Hancock, and Kisely 2013).

This disparity in health outcomes for mental health consumers has led to an increased focus on how current practice can be changed to reduce this mortality gap. As such, the implementation of practices and/or programs that result in better monitoring, treatment and maintenance of the physical health of mental health consumers, particularly in regard to cardiovascular health, have been identified as a priority for mental health services in Australia (MoH 2009).

A growing number of services have met this call to action through the utilisation of exercise physiology services into both primary and secondary mental health settings. Whilst not attributable to all early mortality, there is clear evidence that poorly managed co-morbid lifestyle diseases such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease are large contributing factors to this reduction in life expectancy (O'Connor et al. 2014). Exercise physiology is recognised as ‘a suitable and economically viable intervention for the management and prevention of lifestyle diseases’ (Deloitte 2015). As a result, the mental health sector is recognised as an area with rapidly increasing opportunities for Accredited Exercise Physiologists(Lederman 2015).

The introduction of exercise physiology to the mental health sector has resulted in exercise physiology students, who historically received clinical training in cardiac and musculoskeletal settings, increasingly being exposed to mental health settings. A review of most of the mental health placement offers received by the University of Sydney reveal that the service has been in existence for less than five years. In some cases, the request for exercise physiology students comes from services with no exercise physiology service currently running and students are instead supported by other allied health professionals to create a new service. Despite this increased presence of mental health settings in exercise physiology clinical placement options, it remains unclear how exercise physiology students feel about exposure to this novel practice setting.

In order to ensure exercise physiology students are well-prepared for the unique demands of this practice setting, it is important to first evaluate their current knowledge and attitudes prior to having been exposed to a placement in this setting.

Selected grants

2018

  • Leadership in Ethical Practice; Kenny B, Thomson K, Di Michele L, Nicole M, McAllister L, Semaan A; University of Sydney/Educational Innovation Grant.

2017

  • Enhancing ethical practice during professional placements; Kenny B, McAllister L, Nicole M, Pollard N, Semaan A, Thomson K, Di Michele L, Holden A; DVC Education/Large Educational Innovation Grant.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Lederman, O., Grainger, K., Stanton, R., Douglas, A., Gould, K., Perram, A., Baldeo, R., Fokas, T., Naumann, F., Semaan, A., et al (2016). Consensus statement on the role of Accredited Exercise Physiologists within the treatment of mental disorders: A guide for mental health professionals. Australasian Psychiatry, 24(4), 347-351. [More Information]

2016

  • Lederman, O., Grainger, K., Stanton, R., Douglas, A., Gould, K., Perram, A., Baldeo, R., Fokas, T., Naumann, F., Semaan, A., et al (2016). Consensus statement on the role of Accredited Exercise Physiologists within the treatment of mental disorders: A guide for mental health professionals. Australasian Psychiatry, 24(4), 347-351. [More Information]

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