12 January 2021
The Trust has received funding to evaluate our award winning Nutrition and Body Mass Index (BMI) clinical pathway which supports service users to manage their weight.
We introduced the ‘A Weight off Your Mind’ project to address growing concerns regarding excess weight in people with mental illness.
The Nutrition and BMI pathway, which is part of the Trust’s ‘A Weight off Your Mind’ programme, will be evaluated in partnership with academics from the Centre for Public Health Research at Teesside University in order to determine its impact.
The funding has been awarded by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) and will allow for wider evaluation of the pathway and an opportunity to share it nationally and internationally.
In England, 27% of men and 29% of women have obesity. These figures can be as high as 40-52% for people with serious mental illness.
Commenting on the figures Jo Smith, consultant dietitian for TEWV said “There have historically been challenges with nutritional screening in mental health and learning disability settings and, if weight and diet are not addressed, this can lead to higher mortality rates.”
The Nutrition and BMI pathway was developed in partnership with service users and piloted across four inpatients sites in January 2018, before being rolled out to inpatients across all services in the Trust (except eating disorders units).
The pathway includes a nutrition screening tool and recovery-focussed interventions, with service users encouraged to take control of their own weight management plan by choosing interventions from six categories.
The pathway has received positive feedback from staff and patients and initial results show an increase in the number of patients having nutrition and BMI screening, as well as an increase in how many patients have an intervention plan to address their weight.
The interventions have been used to develop an external online resource to help patients living in the community to manage their weight and the pathway has been shared with several other mental health Trusts. In 2019, Jo was awarded the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer’s Public Health Champion Award for her work in designing and implementing the pathway.
Jo explains: “We hope that by carrying out an in-depth analysis of its effectiveness across the Trust, we can support the NHS to close the significant mortality gap between people with mental ill health and /or learning disabilities and the general population. This could potentially prevent millions of premature deaths every year and save the NHS billions of pounds in treating preventable illness.”
Dr Emma Giles, of Teesside University’s School of Health and Life Sciences, said: “It is really important that objective, robust research is carried out to establish the impact of the pathway. This ensures that it meets patient needs, supporting them to lead healthier lifestyles.
“By working directly with patients at all stages, we will be able to note particular areas of success, as well as what patients themselves specifically identify as being important. The research team very much look forward to working closely with TEWV on this research.”
The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) has funded the evaluation through its Open Funding Competition for 2020.
Professor Eileen Kaner, Director of the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria, added: “Our annual Open Funding Competition allows us to support a diverse range of original and high-quality research projects that aim to improve health and social care both locally and nationally.
“We are very happy to fund this important piece of work and look forward to seeing the impact of the evaluation.”