A Qualitative Study of Social Facilitators and Barriers to Health Behavior Change Among Persons with Serious Mental Illness
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This qualitative focus group study was conducted to explore social facilitators and barriers to health behavior change in persons with serious mental illness engaged in a healthy lifestyle intervention. Six focus group interviews were conducted with a total of 30 clients stratified by “high” and “low” achievers in the program based on clinically significant weight loss or significant increase in fitness. Thematic analysis of focus group discussions revealed that emotional, practical, and mutual support from family members and significant others were social facilitators to health behavior change, while unhealthy social environments was a barrier. Participants in the “high” achiever group reported more mutual support for health behavior change than participants in the “low” achiever group. Results highlight the need for researchers and clinicians to consider the potential role of family and significant others as health supporters for persons with mental illness who could encourage healthy behavior in the social environment.
KeywordsSerious mental illness Healthy lifestyle intervention Social support Health behavior change
The authors thank the Dartmouth Medical School Department of Psychiatry Gary Tucker Junior Investigator Award for funding this study. The In SHAPE study was supported by grants R01 MH089811 and R01 MH078052 from the National Institute of Mental Health.
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