A feasibility Study of the X-Box Kinect for Mental Health Service Users in the Community Mental Health Setting
People with severe and enduring mental illness have an increased risk of obesity, developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes, attributed mainly to lifestyle issues. Interventions that target lifestyle have been tried and tested to offset some of these risk with mixed results. Exercise is an important part of keeping healthy and facilitating activity to help maintain or improve health for those using psychotropic medication is an area of considerable research.
Aim/s: This observational study explored whether access to gaming technology‘ referred to as exergaming’, in community mental health care setting enable mental health service users to increase their physically active thereby improving their overall health and wellbeing.
Methods: An observational study was carried. An XBox Kinect with a variety of games were made available to mental health service users, their carers (including support workers), in a community Mental Health Team. Usage was monitored and field notes were recorded. In addition, 5 participants agreed to take part in a specific sub-study which involved taking anthropomorphic measurements (weight, height, waist circumference, and blood pressure), fitness test (1 minute fitness test and short walking test), and complete short questionnaires about their physical activity and mood at baseline and after 6 months of using the XBox Kinect. One =participant agreed to a semi-structured interview to explore their experiences of using the Xbox Kinect and about whether this type of exergaming would be useful to mental health service users.
Results: Twenty one mental health service users engaged with intervention at least once, with 14 (66.7%) using the console more than once. Six participants agreed to take part the sub-study and completed the baseline measures. However, only 1 participant completed the 6 month follow-up and the semi-structured interview. Key themes emerging from the observational field notes were around support (peer and staff support); opportunity and accessibility; self-monitoring of progress; perceived benefits. Themes emerging from interview data were related including the benefits; motivators; barriers; delivery of the intervention.
Conclusion: The study highlights the value, acceptability and feasibility of open access exergaming in the context of community mental health services. Providing such an intervention has the potential to increase physical activity for mental health service users leading to additional physical health benefits such as reduce weight and BMI.