People with a mental illness experience a significant burden as a result of cancer and other chronic diseases, contributed to by an increased prevalence of health risk behaviours such as smoking, nutrition, alcohol over-consumption, and physical inactivity (SNAP). Despite evident need for preventive care within health services to address such risk behaviours among this group, little research internationally has investigated its provision.
This study investigated the prevalence of SNAP risks, the receipt of preventive care for these risks, and acceptability towards receiving such care among a sample of Australian community mental health clients.
A cross-sectional telephone interview study was conducted within one local health district in Australia. Clients (n=558) of community mental health services were asked about their engagement in SNAP health risk behaviours, their receipt of preventive care (assessment, advice, and referral) for SNAP risks, and their acceptability towards receiving such care. Associations between receipt of care and client and service characteristics were explored.
Alcohol consumption was most commonly assessed (76%), followed by smoking (73%), physical activity (57%), and nutrition (26%). Smokers were most commonly offered referral for treatment (42%), compared to alcohol overconsumption (32%), inadequate physical activity (35%), and inadequate nutrition (19%). Preventive care was more likely provided to clients who reported a greater number of appointments in the previous 12 months.
The findings demonstrate the sub-optimal provision of preventive care within community mental health services, and highlight the need for such services to improve preventive delivery. Intervention research is required to determine effective strategies to increase such care in community mental health settings.