Examining service participation and outcomes from a population-level telephone-coaching service supporting changes to healthy eating, physical activity and weight: A comparison of participants with and without a mental health condition

Prev Med Rep. 2021 Oct 18;24:101609. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101609. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Population-level telephone coaching services provide accessible behaviour change support for modifiable health risk behaviours. The NSW Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service® (GHS) is a free telephone-based coaching service in Australia, supporting improvements in healthy eating, physical activity and achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. This study compared measures of participation (such as program completion) and outcomes achieved immediate post-program (including changes in fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and weight) for GHS participants with and without a self-identified mental health condition (MHC). Secondary data analysis was conducted on service data collected at program intake and completion for individuals who enrolled in a coaching program between January 2018 and October 2019 (n = 5,629); 33% identified as having had an MHC. While those with and without an MHC had similar rates of completion, those with an MHC were less likely to complete a coaching program (31% vs 36%, p = .003). Participants with an MHC made significant positive changes to their fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity (walking and moderate), weight and BMI, but not to waist circumference or vigorous physical activity. When comparing the magnitude of change for those with and without an MHC, individuals without made greater improvements to their weight (adjusted mean difference -0.623 kg, p = .034) and daily vegetable intake (adjusted mean difference -0.199 serves; p = .01). There were no differences for other variables. The GHS is an effective means of supporting behaviour change for people with an MHC who complete a coaching program. Further research should consider means of improving retention rates.

Keywords: Chronic disease; Diet; Exercise; Health promotion; Mental health; Preventive health services.