Wellness for Life: A Pilot of an Interprofessional Intervention to Address Metabolic Syndrome in Adults With Serious Mental Illnesses

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Objective: This paper evaluates a pilot multidisciplinary intervention intended to increase health-promoting behaviors and reduce the negative effects of metabolic syndrome disorders among persons with serious mental illnesses. Exercise, nutritional counseling, health literacy education, and peer wellness coaching were provided by allied health professionals and students. Method: Participants with serious mental illnesses were recruited from partial hospitalization and supported housing programs. Initially, there were 77 participants, with 64 completing the study measures. A single-group, pre-post design was used. They participated in an 8-week program (3 hr each week). Individuals set their own personal health goals and received the interprofessional set of allied health interventions. Body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and several measures of physical strength and flexibility were collected. Paired t tests evaluate the statistical significance of possible changes. Results: Average blood pressure decreased. Waist circumference decreased. Participants improved on measures of strength and flexibility as measured by the functional reach test, the half sit-up test, and the sit-to-stand test. Participants reported increased readiness to exercise and make dietary changes. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Significant improvements in metabolic syndrome risk factors, physical strength, and flexibility were found. Next steps include a longer intervention likely to further reduce metabolic syndrome risk factors. Future studies should include a comparison intervention group and a follow-up to see if gains are maintained. The study highlights the potential utility of psychiatric rehabilitation providers collaborating with other allied health practitioners to promote overall health.

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