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The impact of healthy lifestyle interventions on mental health and wellbeing: a systematic review

Hannah Dale (Health Psychologist, based at Department of Psychology Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, UK)
Linsay Brassington (Trainee Clinical Psychologist, based at Department of Psychology Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, UK)
Kristel King (Research Fellow, based at Centre for Reviews and Dissemination University of York, York, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 5 March 2014

6621

Abstract

Purpose

There is growing evidence that health behaviour change interventions are associated with mental health and wellbeing improvements. This paper aims to examine the effect of healthy lifestyle interventions on mental wellbeing.

Design/methodology/approach

Six databases (Medline, Evidence Based Medicine Cochrane Registered Controlled Trials, Evidence Based Medicine Full Text Reviews, British Nursing Index, Embase, PsycINFO) were searched from database commencement up to April 2013. A broad focus on lifestyle interventions and mental health and wellbeing outcomes was chosen. Papers were systematically extracted by title then abstract according to predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria: any individual population (non-couple/family); any health behaviour change interventions; mental health and wellbeing outcomes; and a one-two level of evidence. Interventions aimed at workers were excluded, as were articles assessing cognitive functioning rather than mental health or wellbeing, or those using medications in interventions.

Findings

Two authors reviewed 95 full papers. In total, 29 papers met inclusion criteria, representing a range of interventions spanning physical activity, diet, alcohol intake, drug use and smoking. A range of measures were used. The majority (n=25) of studies demonstrated improvements on at least one indicator of mental health and wellbeing. Limitations include the broad range of outcome measures used, varied follow-up times and the lack of detail in reporting interventions.

Originality/value

Health behaviour change interventions targeting physical outcomes appear to have benefits to mental health and wellbeing spanning healthy populations and those with physical or mental health problems. Evidence is strongest for interventions targeting exercise and diet, particularly in combination and the actual lifestyle changes made and adherence appear to be important. However, it is not clear from this review which specific components are necessary or essential for improvements in mental health and wellbeing.

Keywords

Citation

Dale, H., Brassington, L. and King, K. (2014), "The impact of healthy lifestyle interventions on mental health and wellbeing: a systematic review", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-05-2013-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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