Monitoring physical health in patients with serious mental illness
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Monitoring physical health in patients with serious mental illness

Dean Gimblett Community psychiatric nurse, Swansea

Dean Gimblett presents a case study of a service user’s heart condition to reflect on the nurse’s role in managing the effects of lifestyle and medication on clients’ physical health

The average life expectancy of people with serious mental illness (SMI) is up to 25 years shorter than that of the general population. Whereas causes of death are largely related to smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, and also suicide, studies have shown that medications prescribed for treating SMI, along with lifestyles, can increase the risk of premature death.

In addition, people with a SMI are less likely to receive physical health monitoring. Care co-ordinators have a responsibility to check a client’s physical health routinely and this article describes one adult client’s care and treatment plan. Ethical dilemmas arose as management of the client’s mental illness posed risks to his physical health. Using the care planning approach in regular multidisciplinary meetings, a feasible regimen was devised, which remains under close scrutiny. The need for physical health monitoring training for mental health nurses is demonstrated, as is the value of nurse-led health check clinics.

Mental Health Practice. 18, 5, 20-23. doi: 10.7748/mhp.18.5.20.e929


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 12 September 2013

Accepted: 21 January 2014

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