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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2018 Feb;27(1):236-246. doi: 10.1111/inm.12313. Epub 2017 Feb 3.

Enabling healthy living: Experiences of people with severe mental illness in psychiatric outpatient services.

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School of Health and Welfare, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden.
Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Linneaus University, Växjö, Sweden.


It is well known that people with severe mental illness have a reduced life expectancy and a greater risk of being affected by preventable physical illnesses such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. There are still, however, only a few published studies focusing on what enables healthy living for this group. This study thus aimed to describe what enables healthy living among people with severe mental illness in psychiatric outpatient services. The data were collected in qualitative interviews (n = 16) and content analysis was used to analyze the data. The interviews resulted in an overall theme "Being regarded as a whole human being by self and others", which showed the multidimensional nature of health and the issues that enable healthy living among people with severe mental illness. Three categories emerged: (i) everyday structure (ii), motivating life events and (iii) support from significant others. The results indicate that a person with severe mental illness needs to be encountered as a whole person if healthy living is to be enabled. Attaining healthy living requires collaboration between the providers of care, help and support. Health care organizations need to work together to develop and provide interventions to enable healthy living and to reduce poor physical health among people with severe mental illness.


healthy living; mental health nursing; patient's experiences; qualitative content analysis; severe mental illness

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