The EXCEL study: A physical activity intervention for individuals with cognitive concerns and mental health symptoms

Presenter: Associate Professor Kathryn Ellis, University of Melbourne

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About the presentation

Physical inactivity significantly increases the risk of dementia (DR).  Dementia risk increases further for middle-aged and older adults who experience mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and cognitive health symptoms including worries or difficulties with thinking and memory. We designed the EXCEL study as an intervention that was tailored to support the unique behaviour change needs of these higher risk individuals. In EXCEL Phase 1 we, we developed a model to understand the Physical Activity (PA) behaviour change needs in this population by triangulating data from three sources: semi-structured individual interviews with people from this higher risk cohort; review of published evidence; and the Capability, Opportunity and Motivation system of behaviour change model. We used these findings to inform the design of the intervention, and in EXCEL phase 2 we conducted a pragmatic online intervention to support middle-aged and older adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and mild-moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress to adopt and maintain national PA guidelines. In Phase 3, we conducted a series of focus groups and interviews with participants and clinicians who care for the mental and cognitive health of this cohort for their perspectives on EXCEL to guide future refinement and implementation plans. This presentation will overview the design and initial findings of the EXCEL study, and overview directions for future work.

About the presenter

Associate Professor Kathryn Ellis, PhD, MPsych (Clin), is a Clinical Psychologist and Behavioural Neuroscientist who is passionate about the mental and cognitive health of older adults. She is currently Acting Director for the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age within the Melbourne Medical School Department of Psychiatry, and also holds an honorary Principle Research Fellow position within the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.  Kathryn has a particular interest and track record in capacity building and fostering collaboration across clinical and research domains.

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