Health professions such as clinical exercise physiology are founded on a set of standards that outline base level knowledge, skills, and competencies to define the roles and scope of practice of the profession. Despite the practice of clinical exercise physiology having many common features regardless of the country in which it is conveyed, a harmonized set of international standards does not exist. The aim of this study was to systematically audit the professional standards for the 5 countries recognized as having existing national certification systems for clinical exercise physiology.
The audit process was conducted using a modified scoping review protocol based on the documentation provided by the American College of Sports Medicine, Exercise and Sports Science Australia, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand. Two reviewers independently extracted data from the standards documents, and results were cross-checked by relevant experts from each jurisdiction.
Commonality of themes was found for 60% of all content extracted. The overall coverage of themes was 60%, 67%, 76%, 88%, and 98% from New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, respectively.
A common core of themes is covered by all current national standards for clinical exercise physiology across the 5 nations audited but only variable coverage in the remaining 40%. These findings are important for understanding the differences in current training and certification of clinical exercise physiology professionals and how this might influence the internationalization of the profession.