Stigma moderates the associations of insight with depressed mood, low self-esteem, and low quality of life in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders

A B P Staring, M Van der Gaag, M Van den Berge, H J Duivenvoorden, C L Mulder
Schizophrenia Research 2009, 115 (2-3): 363-9

BACKGROUND: Good insight into illness in patients with schizophrenia is related not only to medication compliance and high service engagement, but also to depression, low self-esteem, and low quality of life. The detrimental effects of insight pose a problem for treatment.

AIM: To investigate whether the negative associations of good insight are moderated by perceived stigma.

METHOD: Respondents were 114 patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. We used Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to test moderation.

RESULTS: Good insight was associated with high service engagement and high compliance. Also, good insight was associated with depressed mood, low quality of life, and negative self-esteem. This association was strong when stigma was high and weak when stigma was low. SEM showed that the constrained model performed significantly worse than the unconstrained model, in which detrimental associations of insight were free to vary across stigma groups (chi(2)=19.082; df=3; p<.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the associations of insight with depression, low quality of life, and negative self-esteem are moderated by stigma. Patients with good insight who do not perceive much stigmatization seem to be best off across various outcome parameters. Those with poor insight have problems with service engagement and medication compliance. Patients with good insight accompanied by stigmatizing beliefs have the highest risk of experiencing low quality of life, negative self-esteem, and depressed mood. A clinical implication is that when it is attempted to increase insight, perceived stigma should also be addressed.

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