Saturday, 15 January 2005 - 2:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Recovery from Severe Mental Illness
The Contribution of Support to Life Satisfaction of People with Severe Mental Illness Living in the CommunityFang-pei Chen, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jan Steven Greenberg, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Purpose: People with severe mental illness need various kinds of support for their daily living in the community. Usually, the support comes from a combination of the formal service system, the family, and other informal social support in the community. While the quality of life of mental health consumers is emerging as an important treatment outcome, relatively few studies have explored how various sources of support influence consumers' subjective quality of life. Therefore, this study investigates the contribution of different sources of support, including mental health services, the family, and the consumer's social network, to consumers' psychological life satisfaction.
Methods: The study was based on a survey of 94 individuals with schizophrenic spectrum disorders who received case management services. The measure of subjective quality of life, the Satisfaction with Self and Present Life Scale, was developed in the landmark PACT study and measures mental health consumers' self-related concepts and their current life. The sources of support were measured by the consumers' satisfaction with services received for mental health problems, their satisfaction with their family relationships, the quantity of contact between the family and the case manager indicating the connection between the service system and the family, and the number of close friends that the consumers identified. Moreover, these consumers' severity of symptoms and their employment status were also taken into account. Hierarchical regression was conducted for the analysis.
Results: These consumers reported an average score of 13.26 (S.D.=5.37) on the Satisfaction with Self and Present Life Scale, indicating a moderate level of satisfaction. In the first step of the hierarchical regression analysis, the consumers' severity of symptoms (Beta=-.52, t=-5.69, p<.001) had a significant negative effect on their satisfaction with self and present life. Both the consumers' symptoms and employment status explained 30% of the variance of their life satisfaction. After controlling for these two factors, satisfaction with services received for mental health problems (Beta=.23, t=2.41, p=.018), satisfaction with the family relationship (Beta=.27, t=2.83, p=.006), and the number of close friends that the individual identified (Beta=.19, t=2.27, p=.026) were all positively associated with their satisfaction with self and present life. Quantity of contact between the family and the case manager, however, was not significantly related to the consumers' levels of life satisfaction. All these four factors together explained an additional 20% of the variance in the consumers' life satisfaction.
Implications for practice: Consistent with the primary pursuits in the recovery movement, the emphasis on the subjective quality of life manifests the spirit of consumer empowerment. The study shows that psychological life satisfaction of individuals with psychotic disorders is associated with not only the severity of their symptoms, but also the positive relationship with various sources of support. Therefore, to enhance the consumer's quality of life, mental health professionals need to work not only on alleviating the severity of symptoms, but also on improving the quality of mental health services and strengthening the consumer's relationship with his/her family and social network.
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