Skip to content


SUSTAIN: Supporting service users to manage antipsychotic-induced hunger: Co-development and refinement of a non-pharmacological intervention


What are we trying to do?

This study aims to co-develop (with service-users, carers, and mental health professionals), a feasible and acceptable non-pharmacological (non-medication) support package to enhance self-management of antipsychotic-induced hunger.


Why is it important?

In 2015, as part of the NIHR CLAHRC GM funding award, the team ran a research prioritisation event with service users, carers, and health professionals which highlighted antipsychotic related hunger as an important issue for those taking the medications. Whilst mental health professionals were largely focussed on weight-gain, service users identified the underlying issue of hunger side effects as their research priority, with most receiving little help and support in managing this issue.

Antipsychotic medications are the main way that mental health services treat conditions with features of psychosis. We know that about four out of every five people that start taking antipsychotics put weight on very quickly. People can gain two stone in the first 12 months of taking antipsychotic medication and continue to gain weight for at least another 3-4 years. We also know that weight gain increases people’s risk of developing long-term physical health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. People who gain weight from antipsychotic medication tell us that the hunger they experience is very different to usual hunger, with it being much harder to control. We therefore want to understand more about the experiences of antipsychotic related hunger and how it might be helpfully managed.


How are we doing it?

The SUSTAIN study will consist of two main phases:


Examine - In phase one (1-12 months) we are seeking to find out all we can about the current evidence base; via a scoping review of the literature on antipsychotic medication and eating behaviours, before embarking on a systematic review of non-medication interventions and/or support to manage antipsychotic-induced hunger. We will also explore people’s experiences of antipsychotic-induced hunger, via a a) a national survey, b) interviews with service users, and c) focus groups with carers and mental health professionals.


Co-develop - In phase two (12-18 months) we will co-design a non-pharmacological support package based on the learning from phase one. We will initially work with a Lived Experience Advisory Panel that we have specifically recruited to support this study. The panel consists of eight mental health service users and two carers, and we will work with them to co-design the package. We will then run consensus workshops to include other service users and carers, as well as mental health professionals, to co-design and draft resources for the support package.


Who are we working with?

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

University of Manchester

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

SUSTAIN Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP)


More information


Programme Manager

Alison Littlewood