Using internet enabled mobile devices and social networking technologies to promote exercise as an intervention for young first episode psychosis patients

Eoin Killackey, Anna Lee Anda, Martin Gibbs, Mario Alvarez-Jimenez, Andrew Thompson, Pamela Sun, Gennady N Baksheev
BMC Psychiatry 2011, 11: 80

BACKGROUND: Young people with first episode psychosis are at an increased risk for a range of poor health outcomes. In contrast to the growing body of evidence that suggests that exercise therapy may benefit the physical and mental health of people diagnosed with schizophrenia, there are no studies to date that have sought to extend the use of exercise therapy among patients with first episode psychosis. The aim of the study is to test the feasibility and acceptability of an exercise program that will be delivered via internet enabled mobile devices and social networking technologies among young people with first episode psychosis.

METHODS/DESIGN: This study is a qualitative pilot study being conducted at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Participants are young people aged 15-24 who are receiving clinical care at a specialist first episode psychosis treatment centre. Participants will also comprise young people from the general population. The exercise intervention is a 9-week running program, designed to gradually build a person's level of fitness to be able to run 5 kilometres (3 miles) towards the end of the program. The program will be delivered via an internet enabled mobile device. Participants will be asked to post messages about their running experiences on the social networking website, and will also be asked to attend three face-to-face interviews.

DISCUSSION: This paper describes the development of a qualitative study to pilot a running program coupled with the use of internet enabled mobile devices among young people with first episode psychosis. If the program is found to be feasible and acceptable to patients, it is hoped that further rigorous evaluations will ultimately lead to the introduction of exercise therapy as part of an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach in routine clinical care.

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