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The benefits of prescribed physical exercise for people with severe mental illness

Whalley, Anthony P (2012) The benefits of prescribed physical exercise for people with severe mental illness. University of Chester.


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Prescribed physical exercise programmes are provided by the Physical Awareness Department (PAD) within an NHS trust for people with severe mental illness (SMI). There is a requirement for a consistent and reliable measure of the effectiveness of the service based on the perceptions of its patients. This study reports the qualitative development of the Physical Awareness Service Evaluation (PASE) questionnaire by a focus group composed of clinical staff, service managers and patients. Four thematically derived themes identified by the focus group independently mirrored findings of current, evidence based research. The questionnaire was administered to a sample population of patients suffering from severe mental illness enrolled on a prescribed physical activity programme (n=36). Five statistically derived themes (components) were calculated from the results using principle component analysis (PCA) which showed moderate to strong associations between the themes identified by the focus group and the PCA components. Cronbach’s Alpha tests revealed acceptable to good reliability in each component. Data collected longitudinally identified that people showed a statistically significant increase in contemplating positive lifestyle changes after engaging in prescribed physical exercise over a period of approximately four weeks. This study provided a questionnaire that enables collection of data with a fair amount of statistical rigor that may enable PAD to conduct further evaluations based on patient perception of the service. The findings also provide some statistically significant evidence to suggest that PAD is successful in achieving its primary role of promoting positive lifestyle change for people with serious mental illness.

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