Background: Given the side effect of weight gain in many psychiatric medications, a patient’s body image concerns may influence medication compliance, which can be critical in the psychiatric population.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether demographic factors, including age, race, and BMI, have specific associations with body image satisfaction and medication adherence among women with severe psychiatric disorders. Clinical factors, such as diagnosis and type of current psychiatric medications, were also examined.
Methods: Study participants included 112 women aged 18 to 88 who were admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit in New Orleans, Louisiana. Participants completed a brief questionnaire on body image and medication adherence, specifically developed for this study. Collected data were analyzed using T-tests, analysis of variance, correlations, and multivariable regression analysis to compare differences in body image score and medication adherence score by demographic and clinical factors.
Results: Age was associated with significant differences in body image score (F(2, 109) = 5.736, p = 0.004). African American race was associated with higher average BMI (t(39.99) = 3.375, p = 0.002) and self-esteem subscore (t(106) = 2.254, p = 0.026), but not associated with differences in body image score or medication adherence. Regression analysis showed that body image score significantly predicted medication adherence (β = 0.208, p = 0.037).
Conclusion: Assessing how a patient feels about their weight while considering the potential differences in demographic groups may facilitate optimal medication selections and communication of treatment plans with psychiatric patients, which has implications in treatment adherence, disease course, and prognosis.
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