Development and feasibility test of a health education program targeting people with mental illness

Compared to the general population, people with mental illness are at higher risk of developing overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is associated with lifestyle behaviours such as sedentary lifestyle. A recent survey shows that people with mental illness are motivated for engaging in health promoting behaviours but experience barriers. Furthermore, professionals lack competences to communicate and collaborate with people with mental illness about their health. 

The aims of this project are to:

  • Explore the needs, challenges and experiences of people with mental illness in terms of engaging in health promoting behaviour and preventing overweight and type 2 diabetes.
  • Develop a health education program in co-creation with people with mental illness
  • Develop a competence development program for professionals based on the health education program.
  • Feasibility test the health education program and the competence development program 

Design and method
The study is based on a design-thinking approach putting the target group (people with mental illness) at the centre of problem solving and development. People with mental illness have been actively involved in defining challenges and needs as well as developing, prioritising and testing ideas in relation to the health education program. Professionals and family members have been actively involved in defining challenges and commenting on ideas of people with mental illness. 

The research is carried out in three major phases: inspiration, ideation and implementation.The inspiration phase included participant observation of existing health promotion activities, interviews with professionals and people with mental illness as well as workshops with people with mental illness and family members. The health education program was developed in the ideation phase through interactive workshops with people with mental illness and professionals. The program has been integrated into a competence development program for 150 professionals and will be tested in 2016-2017. A feasibility test of the health education program will be carried out using observations, interviews and questionnaires (2016-2017).

Target group
The main target group is adults with mental illness with type 2 diabetes or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and/or related conditions such as cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, the project targets professionals such as social workers, nurses and physiotherapists working with health activities targeting people with mental illness (e.g. individual health consultations, group-based activities such as cooking, exercise and the like)

Expected ending and outcome
  • A health educating program consisting of 2 health education models and 7 dialogue tools 
  • A competence development program for professionals (n=150)
  • New competencies among professionals with focus on ability to communicate and collaborate about health with people with mental illness

Collaborators
Steno Health Promotion Research
Region of Southern Denmark
22 municipalities of Southern Denmark
University College South Denmark

Sidst opdateret 13-12-2016

Nana Folmann Hempler
Teamleader, Senior Researcher
Diabetes Management Research