Factors influencing implementation of aerobic exercise after stroke: a systematic review

Nicola J Gaskins, Emma Bray, James E Hill, Patrick J Doherty, Alexander Harrison, Louise A Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This systematic review aimed to explore the perspectives of healthcare, exercise, and fitness professionals working with people post-stroke regarding the factors affecting the implementation of aerobic exercise after stroke.Data Sources: OVID SP MEDLINE, OVID SP EMBASE, and CINAHL were searched from inception to December 2018 using a combination of search terms with synonyms of stroke, aerobic exercise and barriers/facilitators.Review methods: Studies focusing on the factors affecting implementation of aerobic exercise after stroke from staff perspectives were included with no restriction on the types of study design. For inclusivity, a broad definition of aerobic exercise was used. Review authors independently extracted data from included studies using domains from the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, then synthesised using a framework synthesis approach. Retrospective automated screening was conducted using Rayyan software.Results: Twenty studies were included. Four reported on implementation of aerobic exercise, sixteen on general exercise interventions, all post-stroke. Factors identified as influencing implementation of aerobic exercise after stroke included professionals' self-efficacy and knowledge about stroke, patients' needs, communication and collaboration within and between organisations and resources such as equipment, staff and training.Conclusions: Key factors influencing the implementation of aerobic exercise after stroke included characteristics of the staff and intervention and system-level issues, some of which are modifiable. Further research should evaluate strategies which specifically target these modifiable factors to facilitate implementation in practice.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONAerobic exercise after stroke is an effective intervention but there are challenges to implementation from a staff and system perspective.Any changes to the identified factors should be tailored to suit the staff group and setting.Provision of training and knowledge-sharing could improve staff's confidence in the prescription and delivery of aerobic exercise after stroke though other implementation strategies should also be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalDisability and rehabilitation
Early online date25 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Dec 2019

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