Understanding the role of physiotherapists in schizophrenia: An International perspective from members of the International Organisation of Physical Therapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Brendon Stubbs
  • Michel Probst
  • Marc De Hert
  • Amber De Herdt
  • Davy Vancampfort

Colleges, School and Institutes


Background: Patients with schizophrenia have a drastically increased morbidity and mortality. In non-mental health settings, physiotherapists play an integral role in the management of many of the comorbidities seen in schizophrenia (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity). However, the role of the physiotherapist is not well understood in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia.

Aim: To obtain an international perspective of mental health physiotherapists on their role within the treatment of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Method: A cross-sectional survey of members of the International Organisation of Physical Therapists interested in mental health (IOPTMH) was undertaken. Free text responses to open-ended questions were analysed with a thematic analysis.

Results: Two themes emerged: (1) physiotherapists stated they are physical health experts in the multidisciplinary team (MDT), bridging the gap between physical and mental health. (2) Physiotherapists are integral in health promotion efforts in patients with schizophrenia encouraging healthier lifestyle choices and higher levels of habitual physical activity. Physiotherapists felt their interventions had a diverse range of positive effects on patient’s health and well-being.

Conclusion: Physiotherapists are integral part of the MDT that have a focused role on promoting the physical health needs of patients who are diagnosed with schizophrenia.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-129
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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