Intervention to promote physical health in staff within mental health facilities and the impact on patients' physical health

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BACKGROUND: Patients with severe mental illnesses have an increased physical morbidity and premature mortality on account of somatic diseases. Patients with mental illness are nursed and cared for by the staff, who may acts as role models for the patients.

AIMS: The study tested the efficacy of an intervention programme for improving physical health in staff working in long-term psychiatric treatment facilities. Furthermore, the paper measured the association between staff's changes in physical health and the patients' changes in physical health.

METHODS: The study was a cluster randomized controlled 12-month intervention study, and the intervention was active awareness on physical health.

RESULTS: In the intervention group the staff reduced their waist circumference by 2.3 cm (95% CI: 0.3-4.4) when controlling for gender, age and cigarette consumption. In the control group, the staff changed their waist circumference by - 2.1 cm (95% CI: - 5.6-1.5). The staff in the intervention group experienced a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure of - 5.9 mmHg (95% CI: - 9.5 to - 2.3, p = 0.009). The study indicated an association between the staff average change in each facility and the individual patient's changes in health parameters (body mass index, total body fat and quality of life).

CONCLUSION: The staff in the intervention group showed a significant reduction of waist circumference, while staff in the control group showed a non-significant increase. Furthermore, a significant reduction in the diastolic blood pressure was seen. Indications that staff acted as positive role models for the patients' physical health were seen.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

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