Optimizing staff and volunteer training at community-based exercise programs for persons with disabilities across Canada: A content analysis of quality participation being fostered in program training


Community-based exercise programs (CBEPs) are promising avenues for enhancing exercise participation among persons with disabilities. The positive subjective experience of exercise participation (ie., quality participation (QP)) is important for sustained participation and enhancement to quality of life. Strategies for bolstering QP in CBEPs have been explored in previous research, but little is known about how program providers (i.e., staff, students, and volunteers) are being trained to foster experiential elements of QP (i.e., autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery, and meaning) for participants. The purpose of this study was to conduct an environmental scan of CBEP training materials for program providers to analyze for elements and strategies of QP that are being fostered. From a community of practice of Canadian CBEPs, 10 CBEPs provided training materials and additional information about training protocols through an online survey. Training materials were analyzed for elements and strategies of QP using dual deductive coding with an existing QP framework and strategy matrix. Frequency counts were calculated. Mastery strategies were coded most frequently across training materials and engagement strategies were least frequently coded. In a single program with unique training materials for all three provider types, belongingness, challenge, and mastery were consistently emphasized. Program materials contained a mean of 4.25/6 elements of QP, only one program covered all six elements across their training. Findings provide insight into how CBEPs currently integrate QP into program training, and this knowledge may contribute to establishing a national gold-standard training curriculum that emphasizes QP in CBEPs for persons with disabilities.