Using photovoice to understand and improve healthy lifestyles of people diagnosed with serious mental illness

Amanda Edmondson, Rachel Borthwick, Elizabeth Hughes, Mike Lucock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: People diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI) live 10-20 years less than the general population, due in part to co-existing physical illness linked to lifestyle factors. To inform individualised care plans to promote healthy lifestyles, it is important to understand the views of people diagnosed with SMI. To truly understand their lived experience, research methods should allow participants to set the agenda for discussion, enhancing engagement and empowerment in the research process.

Aim: To use a participatory research approach to capture what healthy lifestyle means to people who are diagnosed with SMI.

Method: Eight people diagnosed with SMI participated in six, weekly focus groups using Photovoice. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: The overarching theme was ‘mental health is the main priority’ and the other themes were barriers to a healthy lifestyle, represented as a vicious cycle, and three themes which were facilitators - the importance of place, meaningful activities and the importance of others.

Discussion: The methodology allowed participants to choose images that reflected their lived experience. The themes describe the interaction of physical and mental health and practical barriers and will inform the design of individualised care plans.

Implications for Practice: In co-designing care plans, mental health nurses should draw on peoples’ preferences and explore the barriers identified in this study.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Early online date30 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2022


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