Knowledge exchange for individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes

“This research will help produce resources on physical activity for individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes. It will also help produce resources for healthcare professionals on how to engage these clients in order to help them become active and healthy.” - Paul Gorczynski

In brief

Paul Gorczynski

In his community-based research project, Paul Gorczynski is looking at the ways that adults with schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes would prefer to receive information about physical activity. A postdoctoral fellow in the Chronic Disease Management Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Paul is developing inclusive individual and environmental strategies to improve overall physical and mental health among individuals with serious mental illness.

This issue of Research As It Happens looks at Paul’s current research project, which aims to find the preferred methods and messengers to deliver this information and when to deliver it so that it will be useful. Research As It Happens highlights evidence as it is being generated.

Read it below or download the PDF.

What is the research about?

Finding ways to deliver information on physical activity

In his community-based research project, Dr. Paul Gorczynski, a postdoctoral fellow in the Chronic Disease Management Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), is looking at the ways that adults with schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes would prefer to receive information about physical activity.

Paul’s research broadly concentrates on issues of health equity in individuals with serious mental illness and developing inclusive individual and environmental strategies to improve overall physical and mental health.

His current project is concentrating on finding the preferred methods and messengers to deliver this information and when information should be delivered in order to be useful. 

Paul will be leading this knowledge exchange initiative with research support from the Chronic Disease Management Program, which is led by Dr. Rohan Ganguli, and the Empowerment Council, both at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

“This research will help produce resources on physical activity for individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes. It will also help produce resources for healthcare professionals on how to engage these clients in order to help them become active and healthy,” Paul explains.

“We're hoping to find out how individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes want to receive information about physical activity, who are the most useful and trusted messengers of this information, and when it should be delivered,” Paul explains. 

Research methods: Focus groups

The first step is to find out what has been written about the delivery of physical activity information to this population. He will do this through a scoping review of research literature as well as grey literature such as published reports. 

He plans to discuss the findings of the review with members of the Empowerment Council and get their input, and then develop the questions for the next phase of the research project—focus groups with individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes.

He hopes to share the findings of these focus groups with community agencies and services, to gauge whether they feel they can deliver what clients are asking for.

“We're hoping to find out how individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes want to receive information about physical activity, who are the most useful and trusted messengers of this information, and when it should be delivered,” Paul explains. 

“Ultimately, we hope to influence policy around how physical activity information is dispensed to clients at CAMH and mental health agencies around the province.”

Limitations of the research

This research is based on a framework advocated by the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council, which calls on researchers to continuously check in with target populations to ensure that their information needs are being met.

Paul explains that his research project is very contemporary, because communication needs change quickly, so methods and messengers that are used to deliver information today may become obsolete tomorrow.

“Essentially, we're using a rigorous methodology that can be used to help influence policy and produce resources for delivering information about behaviour change in other areas, like diet, medication adherence, or glucose monitoring—all behaviours relevant to effective diabetes management,” Paul explains.

Is this research applicable in other contexts?

The methods used in this project were devised by Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis of McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. She used this approach to examine how information about physical activity can be delivered in a useful manner to individuals with spinal cord injury. 

“Essentially, we're using a rigorous methodology that can be used to help influence policy and produce resources for delivering information about behaviour change in other areas, like diet, medication adherence, or glucose monitoring—all behaviours relevant to effective diabetes management,” Paul explains.

For more information, contact Paul at paul [dot] gorczynski [at] camh [dot] ca.

Author: Rossana Coriandoli