The value of social support to encourage people with schizophrenia to engage in physical activity: an international insight from specialist mental health physiotherapists

J Ment Health. 2014 Oct;23(5):256-60. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2014.951481.


Background: Research is needed to understand how mental health physiotherapists use social support when promoting physical activity.

Aims: The aim of this study was to establish which dimensions of social support are used within physiotherapy sessions for individuals with schizophrenia.

Method: A cross sectional international survey design of specialist mental health physiotherapists was undertaken.

Results: Forty mental health physiotherapists provided in depth accounts of the four functional dimensions of social support (informational, tangible, esteem and emotional) and the one structural dimension (importance of group exercise). The results illustrate how these different dimensions of social support are used by physiotherapists to engage patients and identify the value of group work as a specific form of support. Specifically the importance of all types of support was reported and this helped to provide a detailed consideration to the skills that mental health physiotherapist have.

Conclusion: Providing social support is a significant part of the rehabilitation professionals' role. The current results advance the current understanding of how social support is provided to individuals with schizophrenia in rehabilitation settings.

Keywords: Physical activity; physiotherapy; schizophrenia; survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Support*