BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes is 2- to 3-fold more common in patients with schizophrenia than in the general population. A lifestyle with a focus on diet, exercise, and medication is required to prevent complications from type 2 diabetes, but patients with schizophrenia frequently have trouble maintaining such a lifestyle because of factors related to their illness, such as cognitive disturbances, negative and positive symptoms, and side effects of psychotropic medications.
OBJECTIVE: To measure and reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes in patients with schizophrenia and examine characteristics associated with positive outcomes.
METHODS: This study, which was conducted in clinics treating both newly diagnosed and long-term (LT) patients with schizophrenia, evaluated the effects of a 30-month naturalistic intervention on improvement in the physical health of patients treated for schizophrenia and reduction in their risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The clinical intervention incorporated individual guidance, group sessions, and treatment as usual.
RESULTS: Patients newly diagnosed with schizophrenia were found to have high consumption of soft drinks and low physical activity at their index evaluation. At follow-up, the physical profile of these patients had worsened, with increased weight, waist circumferences, visceral adiposity index (P=0.030), and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c; P=0.010). Average HbA1c values increased in newly diagnosed male patients by 0.24 mmol/l (P=0.007). At follow-up, LT patients improved with regard to their consumption of soft drinks (P=0.001) and fast food (P=0.009). The LT patients also reduced their weight and waist circumferences and became more physically active. No changes in HbA1c values were found in the LT patients during the intervention period.
CONCLUSION: The study found that positive outcomes were associated with female sex and a longer duration of illness. Negative outcomes with worsening of risk factors were associated with being newly diagnosed with schizophrenia and male sex. It was possible to produce improvements in some risk factors through individual health-oriented lifestyle interventions, especially in LT patients.