Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen Liller, Ph.D.


healthcare, mental health, physical activity, student health


The co-occurence of physical inactivity and poor mental health in the college student population can lead to chronic health issues that have negative short-term (e.g., academic success and weight gain) and long-term (e.g., obesity, serious mental illness, and premature mortality) impacts. Integrating exercise prescription into the mental health treatment plan of college students could enhance the holistic care model described by The American College Health Association (ACHA) and Healthy Campus task force. Understanding the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that mental health professionals (MHPs) hold regarding exercise prescription is important for policy formation and program development for college student health. The purpose of this study was to examine the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) model and evaluate its ability to explain the variance in the use of exercise prescription in mental health treatment among MHPs. The IMB model suggests that the performance of a health behavior depends on the degree to which an individual is well-informed, highly motivated and equipped with the requisite skills to be successful. This model has been used to examine consumer health behaviors, but limited research exists that investigates the model’s applicability in provider health behaviors (i.e., exercise prescription). A convenience sample of 255 MHPs were recruited for this cross-sectional study between May 2021 and August 2021 from college counseling centers in the United States. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between information, motivation, behavioral skills and exercise prescription. Regression analysis was used to examine the effect of MHPs personal exercise behavior on their exercise prescription practices. The predictors accounted for approximately 23% of the variance in the exercise prescription behaviors in MHPs (p < .001). Organizational support had a significant effect on exercise prescription behaviors ( = 0.27, p < .05). Personal beliefs ( = 0.96, p < .05) and organizational support ( = 0.31, p < .05) had significant direct effects on self-efficacy for prescribing exercise. Additionally, MHPs personal exercise behavior was a significant predictor of exercise prescription ( = 0.16, p < .001). Implications for professional practice and recommendations for future research are offered. Strengths and limitations of the current study are discussed.