The following is a summary of “Exergaming (physically active video gaming) for mental health service users in a community mental health care setting: an ethnographic observational feasibility study,” published in the October 2023 issue of Psychiatry by Roberts et al.
People with severe mental illness have low physical activity levels, contributing to premature mortality. Exergaming, a type of gaming involving physical movement, may offer a way to increase physical activity in this population. Researchers started a retrospective study to explore exergaming engagement and physical activity among mental health service users in a community setting.
They conducted an ethnographic observational feasibility study using participant observation and semi-structured interviews. A gaming console was provided 2 days per week over 12 months in a community mental health setting. Data underwent reflexive thematic analysis.
The results showed 21 mental health service users participated in the intervention, with over two-thirds engaging in exergaming more than once. Only one participant completed the semi-structured interview. Key themes identified from observational field notes included support (peer and staff support), opportunity and accessibility, self-monitoring, and perceived benefits. The themes from the interview data encompassed benefits, motivators, barriers, and intervention delivery. Integrating these findings emphasizes the significance of social support, fun, confidence-building, motivation, self-monitoring, accessibility, and delivery in community mental health care.
Investigators concluded that exergaming engages people with SMI with physical activity and is feasible and acceptable in community mental health services.