Physical and Mental Health Perceptions and Concerns among Young Adults Admitted to a First Episode Program – A Qualitative Study

Poster A65, Thursday, October 20, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Beth Broussard1, Brooke Halpern1, Leslie Capulong1, Neely Myers2; 1Lenox Hill Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, New York, NY, USA, 2Southern Methodist University, Department of Anthropology, Dallas, TX, USA

Young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis are at an increased risk of physical morbidity including cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Britvic, et al., 2013; Correll et al., 2014). Poor dietary choices, infrequent physical activity, cigarette use, weight gain, and medication side effects are some of the possible factors accounting for such elevated levels (Deng, 2013). In a sample of 12 young adults newly admitted to early intervention services (EIS), 30-minute audio-recorded, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to examine subjective perceptions of physical health and its relation to mental health, as well as patient preference for the role of EIS in physical health promotion. Verbatim transcripts were reviewed and coded to reveal major themes. In terms of physical health perceptions, participants used their own selves as the comparison, reporting a post-onset decline of physical health. In addition, half the sample reported medication concerns, stating that more frequent, in-depth medication monitoring is needed. Participants understood and appreciated the connection between mental and physical health. They were eager for physical health programs within EIS and expressed a desire for gym equipment located within clinics to allow for a judgment-free environment. One important finding was the direct influence of family over food options, as many patients lived with family members who were in charge of grocery shopping and cooking. Education on healthy living and nutrition should focus on the entire household to promote availability of healthy food options. Overall, participants were interested in improving their physical health in partnership with EIS.

Topic Area: First Episode Psychosis

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