Differences in Quality of Life Domains and Psychopathologic and Psychosocial Factors in Psychiatric Patients.

Background: Although treatment of severe mental disorders should strive to optimize quality of life (QOL) for the individual patient, little is known about variations in QOL domains and related psychopathologic and psychosocial factors in patients suffering from schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and/or mood disorders. We hypothesized that QOL in severe mental disorder patients would have a more substantial relationship with psychosocial factors than with illness-associated factors.

Method: A case-control, cross-sectional design was used to examine QOL of 210 inpatients who met DSM-IV criteria for a severe mental disorder and who were consecutively admitted to closed, open, and rehabilitation wards. Following psychiatric examination, 210 inpatients were assessed using standardized self-report measures of QOL, insight, medication side effects, psychological distress, self-esteem, self-efficacy, coping, expressed emotion, and social support. QOL ratings for patients and a matched control group (175 nonpatients) were compared. Regression and factor analyses were used to compare multidimensional variables between patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective and mood disorders.

Results: In all QOL domains, patients were less satisfied than nonpatient controls. Patients with schizophrenia reported less satisfaction with social relationships and medication when compared with patients with schizoaffective and/or mood disorders. Regression analysis established differential clusters of predictors for each group of patients and for various domains of QOL. On the basis of the results of factor analysis, we propose a distress protection model to enhance life satisfaction for severe mental disorder patients.

Conclusion: Psychosocial factors rather than psychopathologic symptoms affect subjective QOL of hospitalized patients with severe mental disorders. The findings enable better understanding of the combining effects of psychopathology and psychosocial factors on subjective life satisfaction and highlight targets for more effective intervention and rehabilitation.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(11):880-889