Caitlin Fehily
Dr Caitlin Fehily is an early career postdoctoral researcher working within the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle. Her research interests include addressing the inequitable chronic disease burden experienced by people with a mental health condition. In particular, Caitlin’s research has focused on building the capacity of mental health services to provide preventive care to address their clients’ health and lifestyle factors, including tobacco smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical inactivity and overweight/obesity. Caitlin is involved in a number of research projects across local and national community mental health services, community managed organisations, telephone-based support services, and other health service settings.  


Abstract Title: Population-level telephone coaching for improving health behaviours in mental illness: an RCT

Category: Working in Partnerships’

Authors: Grace Hanly, Jenny Bowman, Kate Bartlem, Libby Campbell, Julia Dray, Sonya Murray, Tegan Bradley, John Wiggers, Luke Wolfenden, Chris Rissel, Kate Reid, Tahlia Reynolds, Marcia Fogarty

Introduction: People with a mental illness experience higher morbidity and mortality, consistently reported as linked to higher rates of chronic disease and engagement in health risk behaviours, including poor nutrition, and physical inactivity. Telephone support services offer a means of improving access to support services, though previous research investigating services for reducing health risk behaviours other than smoking in people with a mental illness has been limited. The current trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an existing population-level telephone support service in reducing health risk behaviours in people with a mental illness.

Methods: A randomised controlled trial is being conducted in partnership with NSW Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service (GHS): a free, population-level telephone coaching service to support clients to lead a healthy lifestyle, including improving nutrition, physical activity, weight management, or reducing alcohol consumption. Clients of mental health services across NSW have been recruited via telephone interview, with data collection at baseline and 6 months post-recruitment. Participants are then randomly allocated to receive either a self-help information pack (control), or the information pack and an active referral to GHS (intervention). Primary outcomes include fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity (SIMPAQ), and attempts to change these behaviours over the past six months. Secondary outcomes include change in weight, waist circumference, Body Mass Index (BMI), and attempts to change any behaviours addressed by the service in the past six months. Process outcomes such as intervention uptake, engagement, and completion will also be assessed.

Results: 682 participants were recruited (intervention: 547; control: 135). Follow-up data collection is underway, with completion expected by July 2021. Study methodology and planned analyses will be presented.

Conclusions: Results will provide valuable evidence of potential for an existing population-level, telephone-based support service to deliver preventive care for chronic disease to this priority population.  
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