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Referrals, Pre-screening and Mental Assessment by Fitness Trainers

Fitness trainers receive clients with multiple medical conditions so it is critical to screen and assess them before starting a program.
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© CQUniversity 2021

Mental Illness in Australia

Fitness trainers receive many patients including those with a mental illness. One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year.
The most common mental illnesses are Depressive, Anxiety and Substance Use Disorder.
These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination.
For example, a person with an Anxiety Disorder could also develop Depression or a person with Depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate.
Of the 20% of Australians with a mental illness in any one year, 11.5% have one disorder and 8.5% have two or more disorders. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
Mental Health in Australia
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019; Black Dog Institute, 2019.

The Fitness Australia Referral Essentials Guide

Client referral represents two or more professionals working together to benefit the client – to optimise both the client experience and health outcome. Effective client referral will help to ensure that clients receive the right care, at the right time to meet their individual needs – a key priority for professionals of all disciplines across the health and fitness spectrum. To achieve this, health and fitness professionals require planned and systematic strategies for referring clients between services. Ultimately, a collaborative and team-oriented approach to referral will optimise client care.
Access the Fitness Australia Referral Essentials Guide

Referral Process Flowchart

Source: Fitness Australia, 2013.
Referral process flowchart
Ensure you have read and understood the Liability & Duty of Care Statement

Adult Pre-Screening System by fitness trainers

Pre-Screening Assessment

Every instructor should take their client through a pre-screening assessment to be made aware of any injuries or medical considerations.
  • The effects of ageing can lead to many risk factors that need consideration in exercise programming. For example; osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, muscular/joint pain or injuries
  • This screening process should reveal relevant background information, known diseases, any known signs and symptoms of disease and family history of disease and health problems
  • A simple, free screening tool for use is provided by Fitness Australia.
Follow the link below for an in-depth look at the Screening System.
Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System

High/Moderate/Low Risk Clients

High Risk: One or more signs/symptoms of or diagnosed cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic disease.
  • A thorough medical examination should take place and clearance given before commencing physical activity or exercise at any intensity level.
Moderate Risk: No signs/symptoms of or diagnosed cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic disease but has two or more cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • May safely engage in low-to-moderate-intensity physical activities without the necessity for medical examination and clearance
  • No vigorous intensity – advisable for clearance.
Low Risk: No known or signs/symptoms of a cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic disease and no more than one cardiovascular disease risk factor.
  • Physical activity/exercise program may be pursued safely without the necessity for medical examination or clearance.
© CQUniversity 2021
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Personal Trainer's Toolkit: Mental Health First Aid for Fitness Trainers

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