Using Peer Support, Mobile Technology, and Social Media to Improve Fitness in Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness

Principal Investigator: Kelly Aschbrenner, PhD

Many young adults with or without mental illness want to be involved in activities that are highly interactive, engaging, and participatory. PeerFIT will play an important role in appealing to their sense of being part of a community of like people who are trying to lose weight and increase their fitness, which is very different from what’s been done in the past where many lifestyle programs are didactic or involve one-on-one coaching.
— Kelly Aschbrenner, PhD

Dr. Aschbrenner, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Geisel and of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, received a four-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study an intervention targeting cardiometabolic risk reduction in young adults with serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder. 

This innovative study is investigating whether PeerFIT, a group-based lifestyle intervention supported by mHealth technology and social media is effective in promoting weight loss and improved fitness in young adults with SMI.


Researchers from two Dartmouth centers are collaborating with Dr. Aschbrenner: the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth, a designated Prevention Research Center by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, co-led by Stephen Bartels, MD, MS, professor of psychiatry and the Herman O. West Professor of Geriatrics, and the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health led by Lisa Marsch, PhD, the Andrew G. Wallace Professor of Psychiatry.