Digital Lifestyle Interventions for Young People With Mental Illness: A Qualitative Study Among Mental Health Care Professionals

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Background: Given the physical health disparities associated with mental illness, targeted lifestyle interventions are required to reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease. Integrating physical health in early in mental health treatment, among young people, is essential for preventing physical comorbidities, reducing health disparities, managing medication side effects, and improving overall health outcomes. Digital technology is increasingly used to promote fitness, lifestyle and physical health among the general population. However, using these interventions to promote physical health within mental healthcare requires a nuanced understanding of the factors, which affect their adoption and implementation.
Objectives: Using a qualitative design, we explored the attitudes of Mental Health Care Professionals (MHCP) towards digital technologies for physical health, with the goal of illuminating the opportunities, development, and implementation of effective use of digital tools for promoting healthier lifestyles in mental healthcare.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with MHCP (N=13) using reflexive thematic analysis to explore their experiences and perspectives on using digital health to promote physical health in youth mental healthcare settings.
Results: Three overarching themes from the qualitative analysis are reported: i) motivation will affect implementation; ii) patients' readiness and capability; and iii) reallocation of staff roles and responsibilities. The subthemes within, and supporting quotes, are described.
Conclusions: The use of digital means presents many opportunities for improving the provision of physical health interventions in mental healthcare settings. However, given the limited experience of many MHCP with these technologies, formal training and additional support may improve the likelihood of implementation. Factors such as patient symptomatology, safety, access to technology, as well as the readiness, acceptability and capability of both MHCP and patients to engage with digital tools, must also be considered. Additionally, the potential benefits of data integration must be carefully weighed against the associated risks.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53406
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2024


  • digital health
  • behaviour change
  • mental healthcare professionals
  • physical health
  • lifestyle intervention
  • qualitative
  • thematic analysis
  • service optimization


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