There are a number of factors that influence quality of life (QOL) for individuals living with schizophrenia. Included among those are family environment, support, symptom severity, medication, and treatment adherence sense of coherence (SOC) describes the comprehension an individual has of their own illness. When a person with schizophrenia understands the nuances of their mental health condition they can be a proactive participant in their own recovery. Integrating an educational foundation into existing treatment approaches may provide the best outcomes for schizophrenic clients and their families.
One such method for integration is a psychoeducational family intervention (PEFI). To determine if this approach enhances SOC and QOL, Walter Gassman of the Vitos Philippshospital in Germany recently conducted a study that assessed how SOC affected QOL in 25 participants who enrolled in the PEFI with their family members compared to 21 individuals with schizophrenia who did not and served as controls. The participants were assessed over a one-year period and the treatment was more intense than the usual sporadic and infrequent treatment that is often adopted in outpatient schizophrenic cases. Gassman found that the individuals with the lowest SOC had the poorest QOL reports prior to treatment. Those with high SOCs not only had higher levels of QOL, but also had lower rates of hospital admission and fewer symptoms. They also believed in the benefits of treatment more than those with low SOCs.
After they underwent PEFI, the participants with the lowest SOCs had the sharpest improvements in SOC and QOL, although their levels did not reach those of the participants with high baseline SOCs. However, the participants with high baseline SOCs were able to increase their QOLs to levels comparable with the general population after one year of treatment. This finding is very promising. Although PEFI proved to be a very viable intervention for families of schizophrenic clients and clients themselves, the biggest indicator of QOL was SOC. Gassman said, “All these findings confirm the hypothesis that the SOC is a good predictor for clinical outcomes and especially for QOL.” He hopes that future efforts focus on more ways to improve SOC in order to achieve a better QOL for all clients with schizophrenia.
Gassmann, Walter; Christ, Oliver; Lampert, Jana; and Berger, Hartmut. The influence of Antonovsky’s Sense of Coherence (SOC) and Psychoeducational Family Intervention (PEFI) on schizophrenic outpatient’s perceived quality of life: a longitudinal field study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1-6. 6p. 5 Charts, 1 Graph.DOI: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-10.
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