The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Sexual and Romantic Relationships and Quality of Life in Adults With Serious Mental Illness

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 3:00 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 003A River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Paula Helu Fernandez, MS, PhD Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Objective: Serious Mental Illness (SMI) affects approximately 1 in 17 adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH). Deterioration in quality of life due to sexual dysfunction is a concern in current mental health practice, yet literature shows sexual health and behavior is hardly discussed in treatment due to shame and stigma. The present study seeks to explore the relationship between sexual and romantic relationships and quality of life in participants with a DSM IV diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders in Los Angeles County.

 Methods: Data comes from the Predicting Psychosocial Rehabilitation Service Outcomes study designed to study the relationship between community based psychosocial rehabilitation services and treatment outcomes in adults with serious mental illness (SMI). Participants were recruited at time of admission to four different community based psychosocial rehabilitation programs in the city of Los Angeles. The participants completed baseline tests to assess all study variables. Data was gathered from 1996 to 2000. For the purpose of this study the data used was gathered to measure psychosocial variables, obtained through face-to-face interviews. The variables for sexual and romantic relationships were obtained from the sexual social scale in the Community Adjustment Form (CAF), quality of life was measured using the five subscales of the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS). Ordinary least squares was applied to determine whether there exists a significant relationship between sexual and romantic relationships and quality of life.

 Results: Our sample is composed of 166 individuals with a DSM IV diagnosis of schizophrenia who at the time of the study had been receiving psychosocial rehabilitation services for at least a year.  The average age of participants was 38 with males being more than twice the amount of females which could be a limitation since gender may be an important factor in sexual intimacy. Different from what was expected, a large percentage of the population was African American with Latino and Asian ethnicities not greatly represented and most of our sample being Caucasian. Controlling for age, race and gender in our model, having dated in the past thirty days was significantly associated with an increase in satisfaction with social relationships ( p<.05).

 Implications: People who dated in the past thirty days showed significantly higher scores in satisfaction with social relationships. This can be very important in the design of skills training and interventions aimed at psychosocial rehabilitation of patients with SMI by including dating and romantic socializing as a key element contributing to better quality of life outcomes. Future research should focus on collecting more data on sexual behaviors to understand how romantic and sexual relationships affect quality of life specifically for those with an SMI diagnosis.