Supporting people with long-term physical health conditions and low mood

A group of friends on a beach.

How do family members and friends support people with long-term physical health conditions and low mood? Isabel Adeyemi, one of our PhD students blogs in relation to her PhD work – the daily activity study.

People are increasingly living with long-term physical health conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For these people, symptoms of low mood or depression are more common than in people without these conditions. Previous research has found that family members and/or friends give direct practical support (e.g. collecting prescriptions or doing housework) to people with health conditions, but often do not recognise the valuable support they may give indirectly, for example, in supporting emotional needs.

Physical activity is any activity that requires a person to use energy above the level they would use in a state of rest. It can help alleviate symptoms of low mood and may improve physical wellbeing, yet is not necessarily perceived as “direct practical support”. A person may do physical activity whilst sitting down or standing up, for example doing wheelchair yoga, housework, walking to the shop or to work, or meeting with a friend.

Because of the potential benefits of physical activities for both emotional and physical wellbeing, my PhD research is looking at developing ways to better support people with long-term physical health conditions and low mood to do some physical activity. As part of my research, I also want to better understand the contributions of family members and friends.

I’m doing an interview study asking family members and friends about their experiences, what helps them and their loved one to do activities together, and what hinders them from doing activities. If you are a family member or friend of someone living with physical health conditions and low mood, and you may like to take part in the study, please see our information sheet.

More information

For more information or to discuss the research, please contact- or phone 0161 275 7664.

Follow updates about the study on or follow Isabel’s updates on twitter via @IsabelAdeyemi.