Perceptions of Barriers and Benefits to Physical Activity Among Outpatients in Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Authors

  • Judith McDevitt,

    1. Judith McDevitt, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Marsha Snyder, PhD, APN, CS, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Arlene Miller, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Professor and Department Head; JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, APN, FAAN, Alpha Lambda, Professor; all at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, IL. This study was funded by the Internal Research Support Program of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The authors thank Lucy Marion for reading drafts of this paper, Kevin Grandfield for editorial assistance, and Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers for their support of this study. Correspondence to: Dr. McDevitt, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing (MC 802), 845 South Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail: jmcdev1@uic.edu
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  • Marsha Snyder,

    1. Judith McDevitt, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Marsha Snyder, PhD, APN, CS, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Arlene Miller, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Professor and Department Head; JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, APN, FAAN, Alpha Lambda, Professor; all at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, IL. This study was funded by the Internal Research Support Program of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The authors thank Lucy Marion for reading drafts of this paper, Kevin Grandfield for editorial assistance, and Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers for their support of this study. Correspondence to: Dr. McDevitt, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing (MC 802), 845 South Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail: jmcdev1@uic.edu
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  • Arlene Miller,

    1. Judith McDevitt, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Marsha Snyder, PhD, APN, CS, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Arlene Miller, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Professor and Department Head; JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, APN, FAAN, Alpha Lambda, Professor; all at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, IL. This study was funded by the Internal Research Support Program of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The authors thank Lucy Marion for reading drafts of this paper, Kevin Grandfield for editorial assistance, and Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers for their support of this study. Correspondence to: Dr. McDevitt, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing (MC 802), 845 South Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail: jmcdev1@uic.edu
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  • JoEllen Wilbur

    1. Judith McDevitt, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Marsha Snyder, PhD, APN, CS, Alpha Lambda, Clinical Assistant Professor; Arlene Miller, PhD, APN, CNP, Alpha Lambda, Professor and Department Head; JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, APN, FAAN, Alpha Lambda, Professor; all at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing, Chicago, IL. This study was funded by the Internal Research Support Program of the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The authors thank Lucy Marion for reading drafts of this paper, Kevin Grandfield for editorial assistance, and Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers for their support of this study. Correspondence to: Dr. McDevitt, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing (MC 802), 845 South Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail: jmcdev1@uic.edu
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Abstract

Purpose: To explore perceived barriers and benefits to physical activity in people with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) who were enrolled in community-based psychiatric rehabilitation.

Design and Methods: Four focus groups, two for men and two for women, were held with a total of 34 outpatients from two program sites. The investigators used a semistructured interview guide to facilitate the discussions. Audiotapes of the discussions were transcribed and analyzed for concepts and themes.

Findings: Significant barriers to physical activity were: mental illness symptoms, medications, weight gain from medications, fear of discrimination, and safety concerns. Being in a psychiatric rehabilitation program offered comfort and belonging, but it also had the effect of leaving activity initiation up to the program staff, which some participants perceived was part of required program compliance. However, participants viewed physical activity positively, and they linked being active to improved mental health.

Conclusions: Outpatients in psychiatric rehabilitation valued physical activity, but mental illness symptoms, medication sedation, weight gain, fear of unsafe conditions, fear of discrimination, and interpretations of program compliance were barriers. Confronting how attitudes and barriers specific to this population can affect activity and reframing program compliance to include the independent initiation of activity as part of improving health might help clients of mental health services to become more active.

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