JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Relationship between insight and self-reported quality of life among shizophrenic patients]

V Aghababian, P Auquier, K Baumstarck-Barrau, C Lançon
L'Encéphale 2011, 37 (3): 162-71
21703431

BACKGROUND: Shizophrenia is a long-lasting condition with either episodic or continuous evolution that can result in physical, psychological, and social problems related to both the disease itself and the potential side-effects of treatments. These various aspects should be taken into account when assessing the outcome of medical management of patients suffering from schizophrenia. Subjective criteria, such as quality of life (QoL) measurements, should be considered an important focus for evaluation in this population. A major subgroup of patients with schizophrenia lacks insight of having a mental disorder or symptoms of a mental disorder. Studies on the relationship between insight and QoL have produced inconsistent results. While some studies found positive associations between insight and QoL, others found negative ones. Some possible explanations for the discrepancies between these findings can be expressed: differing patients' characteristics, heterogeneous insight or QoL measures, sample size and methodological differences. None of the previous research studies have looked at relationships between insight and QoL, as assessed respectively using the scale to assess unawareness of mental disorder (SUMD, a widely multidimensional insight questionnaire), and the S-QoL (a disease-specific patient-based instrument).

AIM OF THE STUDY: The aim of this study was to assess the impact of insight into illness on the self-reported QoL as determined by schizophrenic patients, while taking into account the key confounding factors.

METHODOLOGY: This study incorporated a cross-sectional design and took place in the psychiatric department of a French public university teaching hospital (Marseille, France). The inclusion criteria were: diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (DSM-IV-R), age over 18, native French speaker, agreement to participate. The following data were recorded: sociodemographic parameters (age, gender, marital status, education level, occupational activity), clinical data (in- or out-patient, clinical form), and psychopathology (Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale, PANSS). Insight was assessed using the Scale to assess Unawareness of Mental Disorder (SUMD), a standardised expert-rating scale based on a patient interview describing nine domains. The S-QoL is a self-administered disease-specific instrument validated from patients' views that includes 41 items and describes eight dimensions (psychological well-being, self-esteem, family relationships, relationships with friends, resilience, physical well-being, autonomy, and sentimental life), and yielding a global index score.

RESULTS: One hundred and fifty-three patients were enrolled (mean age 37.6, standard deviation 11.2). Patients with good insight generally reported a lower global QoL score, whatever the insight domains. Insight of mental disorder is the most important domain affecting QoL levels. Psychological well-being, self-esteem, physical well-being, and autonomy scores were significantly lower for subjects with good insight. Multivariate analysis showed that insight of mental disorder is the only parameter linked to the S-QoL index. No links were found between other insight domains and S-QoL index.

CONCLUSION: Patients with good insight might realise consequences of their mental illness with restrictions in daily living and alteration of their QoL, while patients with poor insight might partially overrate their QoL and present themselves as more competent.

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