Healthy Lifestyles and Outcomes

 Research has found that people experiencing mental illness have a significantly shortened lifespan compared to those without mental illness. It is known that people with mental illness are more likely to have serious physical health conditions, like heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and are less likely to receive the medical attention and treatment they require.

The physical health of people experiencing mental illness needs to be given the attention it deserves. Improvements in physical health contribute to better mental health, increased daily functioning and improved quality of life.  

The Healthy Lifestyles and Outcomes stream of research focuses on physical health for people experiencing mental illness.  In particular, our work involves:

Therefore, work in this stream has both a research and a clinical focus.

You can watch an overview of the team's work here.

Healthy Lifestyles and Outcomes team

Team Leader      
Professor Jayashri Kulkarni

Sacha Filia 

Amity Green
Collaborating Researchers
Professor Amanda Baker (University of Newcastle)
Professor Robyn Richmond (University of New South Wales)
Professor David Castle (University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital)
Associate Professor Jill Williams (UMDNJ − Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)
Dr Frances Kay-Lambkin (University of Newcastle)
Dr Melinda Carrington (Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute)
Lucinda Riches (Inner South Community Health Service)


Healthy Lifestyles and Outcomes: current projects

1. Healthy lifestyle intervention for cardiovascular disease risk reduction among people with psychotic disorders

To test the effectiveness of a treatment for smoking cessation and reducing risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) among people experiencing psychosis

The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)


People who meet the following criteria are eligible to participate:
•   Diagnosis of psychosis (such as bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, first-episode psychosis and other psychosis)
•    Smokes at least 15 cigarettes per day
•    Aged over 18 years
•    Can speak English
•    Has no organic brain damage
•    No medical history that would preclude treatment with nicotine
     replacement therapy (NRT), e.g pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes

Once people agree to participate, they meet with a member of the research team to have a comprehensive assessment of their mental and physical health (including weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol). 

After completing the assessment phase, each person will receive an individual feedback session.  They will then be randomly allocated to receive the Healthy Lifestyle intervention or a minimal intervention (regular phone contact by the research team).  The Healthy Lifestyle intervention consists of cognitive behaviour therapy and motivational interviewing designed to encourage reduction in cigarette usage, and healthier diet/nutrition and physical activity.  Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) will be offered to all participants to assist with attempts to quit cigarettes.  All participants are followed up at 15 weeks, 12 months and 18 months.  


 2. Varenicline (Champix) for smoking cessation in people experiencing psychosis

The project aims to examine the safety and efficacy of varenicline for smoking cessation among people experiencing psychosis. 

A total of 15 participants will be recruited. This project has been funded by an investigator-initiated grant from Pfizer. 

Project status
Recruitment is currently under way and some participants have commenced the study.

This study is being conducted at St.Vincent’s Hospital in collaboration with Professor David Castle and Dianne Harris.  Professor Kulkarni is a Chief Investigator.


3. Becoming a smokefree inpatient psychiatry ward: the staff & client experience.

This study aims to evaluate staff/client attitudes, expectations and experience regarding the smokefree policy before and after the ban is introduced on the inpatient psychiatry ward.

Staff and clients of the inpatient psychiatry ward at the Alfred Hospital.

Information is completed via questionnaires before and after the smoking ban.

Project status
Pre smoking ban questionnaires have been completed by 45 staff members and 46 clients. Post smoking ban questionnaires are being collected at present.  The first round of data collection was completed March 2009 and data analysis has commenced.  


4. Smokefree Support Group

This study aims to evaluate the Smokefree Support Group on the inpatient psychiatric ward

Project status
This project is currently under way.