Aim. This paper reports a systematic review of the published and grey literature which has investigated the efficacy of healthy living interventions for adults with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder.
Background. Adults with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder have reduced life expectancy when compared with members of the general population, with approximately 59% of excess mortality resulting from natural causes.
Methods. The review was conducted following guidelines provided by the United Kingdom National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, and using the Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, Cochrane Library, National Research Register, and System for Info on Grey Literature databases.
Results. Sixteen studies were identified, examining four types of healthy living interventions: smoking cessation (n = 7), weight management (n = 5), exercise (n = 3) and nutritional education (n = 1). The smoking cessation, weight management and exercise studies showed positive outcomes in the main. The quality of the studies, however, was generally poor. Only two had control groups, most recruited small self-selected samples, six did not standardize for diagnosis, external validity was generally poor and no studies followed participants for longer than 6 months. The best quality evidence was produced by the smoking cessation and weight management studies, which were more methodologically robust and demonstrated promising outcomes.
Conclusions. Further research is needed to assist the development of effective interventions to help this client group to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. Research and practice development in this area may be an important role for nurses in both hospital and community settings.