Bringing an Effective Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention for People With Serious Mental Illness to Scale

Emma E. McGinty, Kimberly A. Gudzune, Arlene Dalcin, Gerald J. Jerome, Faith Dickerson, Joseph Gennusa, Stacy Goldsholl, Deborah Young, Gail L. Daumit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


People with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) die 10–20 years earlier than the general population, mainly due to cardiovascular disease. Obesity is a key driver of cardiovascular risk in this group. Because behavioral weight loss interventions tailored to the needs of people with SMI have been shown to lead to clinically significant weight loss, achieving widespread implementation of these interventions is a public health priority. In this Perspective, we consider strategies for scaling the ACHIEVE behavioral weight loss intervention for people with SMI, shown to be effective in a randomized clinical trial (RCT), to mental health programs in the U.S. and internationally. Given the barriers to high-fidelity implementation of the complex, multi-component ACHIEVE intervention in often under-resourced mental health programs, we posit that substantial additional work is needed to realize the full public health potential of this intervention for people with SMI. We discuss considerations for successful “scale-up,” or efforts to expand ACHIEVE to similar settings and populations as those included in the RCT, and “scale-out,” or efforts to expand the intervention to different mental health program settings/sub-populations with SMI. For both, we focus on considerations related (1) intervention adaptation and (2) implementation strategy development, highlighting four key domains of implementation strategies that we believe need to be developed and tested: staff capacity building, leadership engagement, organizational change, and policy strategies. We conclude with discussion of the types of future research needed to support ACHIEVE scale-up/out, including hybrid trial designs testing the effectiveness of intervention adaptations and/or implementations strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number604
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018


  • diet
  • exercise
  • obesity
  • serious mental health conditions
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Bringing an Effective Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention for People With Serious Mental Illness to Scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this