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Qualitative descriptive study exploring schizophrenia and the everyday effect of medication-induced weight gain


  • Amanda Digel Vandyk, RN, MSc.

  • Cynthia Baker, RN, PhD.

Amanda Digel Vandyk, School of Nursing, Queen's University, 92 Barrie Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6. Email:;


Weight gain and obesity are serious side effects of the medications used to manage psychotic disorders and successful, long-term weight loss interventions are not yet available. One reason for this may be that current interventions are designed without consideration of the patient's perspective. The purpose of this study was to explore the subjective experience of weight and lifestyle from the perspective of people with schizophrenia. A qualitative, constructivist research design was used and conversational interviews were conducted with 18 purposefully recruited participants from an outpatient clinic at a psychiatric hospital in Eastern Ontario. Data were analysed according to the method of constant comparison and three central themes emerged: a life altering diagnosis, weight management as complex, and today's experiences shape tomorrow's outcomes. Weight management was seen as difficult yet important to the participants. The findings of this study provide insight into the views and opinions of the participants regarding weight and lifestyle and may be used to support the design of tailored heath initiatives for persons with mental illness.