An individualized, community-integrated approach can help people with serious mental illness maintain healthy changes in diet and physical activity, according to a study published in the Community Mental Health Journal.
The In SHAPE health promotion intervention, designed to serve a wide range of people with mental illness, was evaluated for sustainability of health behaviour change over a nine-month period. The program is characterized by individually-tailored fitness and diet plans, weekly individual meetings with a health mentor, individual instruction to accommodate cognitive and social difficulties, and participation in activities in the community through local recreational facilities. Physical activity and dietary behaviours were measured through self-reporting to health mentors and health mentor logs. Health indicators and psychological functioning and symptoms were also assessed.
Program participation was found to bring significant, long-term improvements in physical activity, waist circumference, satisfaction with fitness, mental health functioning and negative symptoms.
To overcome the limitations of this evaluation, such as the lack of a control group for comparison, the In SHAPE program is being further tested in randomized controlled trials.
See “A Pilot Evaluation of the In SHAPE Individualized Health Promotion Intervention for Adults with Mental Illness,” Community Mental Health Journal (December 2010; 46: 540-552), available atwww.springerlink.com.