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Journal Article


Young SJ, Praskova A, Hayward N, Patterson S. Health Soc. Care Community 2016; 25(2): 602-611.


Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia.


(Copyright © 2016, John Wiley and Sons)






Evidence is unequivocal: the premature death of people with severe mental health problems is attributable primarily to cardiovascular disease, and healthcare provided is often suboptimal. With the overarching aim of improving outcomes, policies and guidelines oblige mental health services and psychiatrists to monitor cardio-metabolic health of patients and intervene as appropriate. Practice is highly variable; however, with ongoing debate about resourcing and responsibilities dominated by clinicians who have identified disinterest among patients as influencing practice. Seeking to balance discussion, we posed the question 'what do patients experience and expect of mental health services in relation to their physical health?' To answer it, we interviewed a convenience sample of 40 service users recruited from a mental health service in Australia, early in 2015. Data were analysed using the framework approach. With few regarding themselves as healthy, participants were commonly concerned about side effects of medication, weight and fitness but rarely mentioned tobacco smoking. Participants' accounts reinforce extensive research demonstrating variability in attention to physical health in mental health services. Reports by some participants of comprehensive care are encouraging, but widespread uncertainty about reasons for various assessments and denial of requests for management of medication side effects, including weight gain, gives cause for concern. Although participants in this study wanted to improve their health and health-related quality of life, they acknowledged that their motivation and ability to do so fluctuated with mental health. They expected clinicians to work proactively, especially when symptoms compromised capacity for self-care, and mental health services to provide or enable access to health-promoting interventions. Attention should be given, as a matter of priority, to creating conditions (culture and infrastructure) needed to support sustained attention to physical health within services and, importantly, to full engagement of service users in management of their physical health.

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Language: en


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