A narrative synthesis investigating the use and value of social support to promote physical activity among individuals with schizophrenia

Julia Gross, Davy Vancampfort, Brendon Stubbs, Paul Gorczynski, Andrew Soundy

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Purpose - To review and synthesise the literature detailing the use of social support to facilitate physical activity participation in individuals with schizophrenia.

Method - A systematic review of major electronic databases was conducted to identify literature regarding the use of social support to promote physical activity among people with schizophrenia. A narrative synthesis was undertaken in four stages, including development of a theory, developing a preliminary synthesis, exploring relationships and assessing the robustness of the synthesis.

Results - From a total of 110 studies, 23 met the inclusion criteria including 883 individuals with schizophrenia. Informational support was the most documented form of social support, followed by emotional, esteem and tangible. Providers included research personnel, healthcare professionals, family members and peers. Details of the content of the different dimensions of functional support are given. Social support appears to have an important role to help individuals with schizophrenia initiate, comply and adhere with exercise interventions. Social support may have an indirect benefit on weight maintenance. However, due to the limitations of the selected literature, it was difficult ascertain what the (in)direct benefit of social support are on health outcomes.

Conclusions - Social support appears to play a pivotal role in initiating physical activity as well as ensuring compliance and adherence to physical activity. Future research is required to investigate the optimal type and mode of delivery of social support on health outcomes.Implications for Rehabilitation

Limited evidence is available that considers the role, value and use of social support within physical activity interventions for individuals with schizophrenia.

Social support appears most likely to aid an individual’s initiation, adherence and compliance to physical activity interventions.

There may be an indirect benefit of social support on maintaining or enhancing health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-150
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Early online date19 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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