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Improving Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health at an Early Psychosis Intervention Program in Vancouver, Canada

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00105

Keywords: psychosis, antipsychotic, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus, exercise, health coaching, mental illness, schizophrenia

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Psychotic disorders most commonly appear during the late teenage years and early adulthood. A focused and rapid clinical response by an integrated health team can help to improve the quality of life of the patient, leading to a better long-term prognosis. The Vancouver Coastal Health early psychosis intervention program covers a catchment area of approximately 800,000 people in the cities of Vancouver and Richmond, Canada. The program provides a multidisciplinary approach to supporting patients under the age of 30 who have recently experienced first-break psychosis. The program addresses the needs of the treatment environment, medication, and psychological therapies. A critical part of this support includes a program to specifically improve patients’ physical health. Physical health needs are addressed through a two-pronged, parallel approach. Patients receive routine metabolic health assessments during their first year in the program, where standard metabolic parameters are recorded. Based on the results of clinical interviews and laboratory tests, specific actionable interventions are recommended. The second key strategy is a program that promotes healthy lifestyle goal development. Patients work closely with occupational therapists to develop goals to improve cardiometabolic health. These programs are supported by an active research environment, where patients are able to engage in studies with a focus on improving their physical health. These studies include a longitudinal evaluation of the effects of integrated health coaching on maintaining cardiometabolic health in patients recently admitted to the program, as well as a clinical study that evaluates the effects of low versus higher metabolic risk antipsychotic drugs on central adiposity. An additional pharmacogenomic study is helping to identify genetic variants that may predict cardiometabolic changes following treatment with antipsychotic drugs.


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