Improving quality of life and physical health in patients with schizophrenia: A 30-month program carried out in a real-life setting

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2017 Jun;63(4):287-296. doi: 10.1177/0020764017702172. Epub 2017 Apr 3.


Background: Patients with schizophrenia experience low quality of life (QoL) and poor physical health, which is explained, in part, by unhealthy lifestyle, tobacco smoking, poor diet and sedentary behavior.

Aim: To measure QoL and physical health in patients with schizophrenia and to quantify associations between QoL and physical health.

Methods: This was a naturalistic longitudinal 30-month follow-up study including individual guidance, group sessions and treatment as usual.

Results: We included 190 patients. QoL was low among newly diagnosed patients. Higher body mass index was significantly associated with lower QoL. Newly diagnosed male patients showed lower QoL compared with females. Newly diagnosed patients experienced worsened health during the study period. In contrast, long-term schizophrenic patients started with worse physical health but improved with regard to weight, waist circumferences, intake of fast food and soft drinks, and light physical activity level. Newly diagnosed patients improved their QoL ( p = .056), and the psychological domain improved by 8.0 points ( p = .003). The number of interventions was positively associated with QoL.

Conclusion: Patients with schizophrenia presented with low QoL and elevated risk factors for poor physical health. The intervention added onto 'treatment as usual' improved some risk factors for poor physical health among long-term patients. The number of interventions had an elevating effect on QoL in patients.

Keywords: Quality of life; antipsychotic agents; duration of illness; intervention; physical health; prevention; schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Size
  • Denmark
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Quality of Life*
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Young Adult