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Exercise in Forensic Psychiatric care

Patients with severe mental disorder such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in forensic psychiatric care appear to be exposed to multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise provides an important protection against this type of illness and there are reasons to believe that exercise can have positive effect on psychiatric symptomatology as well. Despite this, there appears to be no general consensus on physical exercise as part of treatment in forensic psychiatric care. There is little knowledge of forensic psychiatric patients' physical fitness, physical activity levels and self-perceived health. Patients with severe mental disorder have for unknown reasons greater tendency to stop participating in exercise than others. It is likely that they individual support to participate regularly in exercise in the long term. Reasons why patients stop may be due to psychiatric symptoms, reduced motivation and cognitive ability, previous bad experiences and / or impaired emotional functions.

The overall aim of the project is to describe and measure effects of exercise on physical performance, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, medication, aggression and stress in patients in compulsory forensic psychiatric care. The project includes cross-sectional studies of physical performance, physical activity, stress and aggression, experimental studies of the effect of exercise on these areas and qualitative and quantitative studies of perceptions of the meaning of exercise among mental health professionals, especially with regard to the significance of exercise as part of treatment or rehabilitation.

Sub studies:

  1. Physical performance and physical activity among patients in compulsory forensic psychiatric care (to be submitted February 2017)
  2. Staff perceptions on physical activity in forensic psychiatric care (analyze is ongoing)
  3. Translation and validation of the Exercise in Mental Illness Questionnaire-Health Professionals Version (EMIQ-HP) (planned)
  4. Effects of exercise on patients in compulsory forensic psychiatric care. (planned)


The planned project can provide important knowledge about how exercise can contribute to an improved, more multi-modal, forensic psychiatric care with the potential to reduce morbidity from cardiovascular disease. The increased knowledge may also contribute to the development of additional treatment options for some psychiatric symptoms in psychiatric care.

Principal Investigator: Henrik Bergman

Contact Information

Henrik Bergman

Page Manager: Stefan Axelsson|Last update: 3/2/2017

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