The adverse impact of unhealthy lifestyle choices and the prescription of antipsychotic medications contribute to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health and reduced life expectancy for people with psychosis. The present study aimed to explore the acceptability and perceived outcomes of a lifestyle intervention designed to prevent or reduce weight gain in people with first-episode psychosis.
This was a qualitative study using a data-driven approach. People recovering from first-episode psychosis recruited from UK early intervention services and taking part in the active arm of a randomised controlled trial of a lifestyle intervention (the InterACT trial), were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Framework Analysis.
Participants valued the collaborative and individualised approach taken by the intervention deliverers, and formed high quality relationships with them. Aspects of the intervention that were positively appraised included goal setting, social opportunities, and progress monitoring. Benefits of the intervention, including increased levels of exercise; improved diet and physical health; increased psychological wellbeing (e.g. confidence, self-esteem); and improved social relationships, were identified by participants, independent of actual weight loss.
Future interventions should ensure that workers have the skills to form high quality relationships with users, and to individualise the intervention according to users’ needs and preferences. Future trials that test healthy living interventions should consider supplementing physical outcome measures with wider psychosocial outcome assessments, in particular social relationship quality, psychological wellbeing, self-esteem and self-efficacy.
Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN22581937. Date of registration: 27 October 2010 (retrospectively registered).