Personal Empowerment Program: Addressing Health Concerns in People with Schizophrenia

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Three staff nurses in the Outpatient Schizophrenia Service of the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, became concerned about the weight gain of their patients. Patients and their family members were also concerned and asking for help. Before integrating a program to address these concerns, staff first had to demonstrate that a program of this nature would be beneficial for clinic patients. Of the 75 clients screened, many presented with problems in the areas of weight, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar and lipid levels. Although not a research study, an 8-month pilot project was implemented to address these concerns.

It was hypothesized that integrating all dimensions of wellness in patient programming would have a positive effect on various defined indicators (e.g., weight, body mass index, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and lipid levels). Screening tests before, during, and after the 8-month project provided the physical outcome measurements. Social and psychological outcomes were described through observation and group member feedback. The positive results are significant in terms of empowering patients in the long-term management of their health.

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