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nursing process, psychotropic medications, weight gain, weight management





Purpose/Objectives: The purpose of this clinical project is to emphasize the importance of prevention/treatment of psychotropic medication-induced weight gain. Professionals who work with patients taking psychotropic medications should provide a weight management program specifically designed to address the unique needs of the mentally ill patient.


Background/Rationale: Psychotropic medications used in the treatment of serious psychiatric disorders are associated with body weight gain. Medication-induced weight gain can lead to serious health issues and noncompliance with needed treatment.


Description of the Project: Current literature and discussion of possible mechanisms of pharmacologically induced weight gain are reviewed. Health issues related to weight gain are summarized. The nursing process is then used to assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate a program of weight management for pharmacologically treated psychiatric patients.


Outcomes: Research findings demonstrate an increased rate of obesity in pharmacologically treated psychiatric patients. This phenomenon is probably multifactorial and leads to physical complications, psychological consequences, and noncompliance with treatment. Patients with mental health disorders can effectively control their weight if they are supported by a weight management program specifically designed to meet their needs.


Interpretation/Conclusions: Early intervention can prevent or minimize weight gain. Weight gain when it does occur can be reversed through a program of weight management. Nurses can utilize the nursing process to develop a weight management program that provides for the special needs of mentally ill clients.


Implications for Nursing Practice: Psychotropic medication-induced weight gain is an often neglected problem that is not readily addressed in the clinical setting. On the basis of the scope of the problem, nurses should view medication-induced weight gain as a priority. Nurses are in a unique position to design and implement an individualized weight management program through the collaborative and holistic strategies that the nursing process provides.