Exploring key determinants of health among individuals with serious mental Illness: qualitative insights from a first episode psychosis cohort, 20 years postdiagnosis

BMC Psychiatry. 2023 Oct 26;23(1):784. doi: 10.1186/s12888-023-05270-1.


Background: Individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) are more likely to experience functional decline, low well-being, comorbidities, shorter lifespan, and diminished quality of life than the general population. This qualitative study explores determinants of health that individuals with SMI perceive as important to their health, well-being, and ability to live a meaningful life.

Method: We conducted interviews with 13 individuals with early detected first episode psychosis as part of a 20-year follow-up study of a larger cohort. Interview data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results: Analysis identified two themes comprising eight categories representing determinants of health. The first theme reflected management of mental and physical health. Categories in this theme were: access to mental healthcare adapted to individual needs, strategies during deterioration, use of psychotropic medication, maintenance of physical health and lifestyle. The second theme reflected social health determinants in coping with mental illness and comprised three categories: family and friends, engaging in meaningful hobbies and activities, and the influence of employment on mental health.

Conclusions: Individuals with SMI outlined mental, physical, and social determinants of health that were important for their health, well-being, and ability to live a meaningful life. In future clinical practice, coordinated care addressing the complexity of health determinants will be important.

Keywords: Early intervention; Individual interviews; Mental disorder; Mental healthcare; Psychosis; Qualitative design; Service users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Employment
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life