Although there are many different symptoms and severities of schizophrenia, most individuals with schizophrenia experience a significant decline in their quality of a life as a result. Even when they are able to enjoy long periods of relatively stable quality of life and remission from symptoms, the threat of relapse is always present. The mental functioning of a client is one indication of quality of life (QoL), but physical functioning is another. According to the results of a recent study conducted by Laurent Boyer of Aix-Marseille University Research Unit in France, physical functioning is one factor that could more strongly be associated with QoL for people with schizophrenia, and therefore, could be a more accurate predictor of relapse.
In the study, Boyer used the Short Form 36 Mental (SF36-MCS) and Physical (SF36PCS) Component Scales and the QoLI to measure functioning and quality of life in over 1,000 clients with schizophrenia. The participants were evaluated at baseline and assessed again 24 months later. Boyer found that over half of the participants had at least one episode of relapse while 47% had not relapsed at all during the 24-month period. The results revealed that QoL was the strongest predictor of relapse, with low QoL increasing the odds of relapse significantly. Also, the older participants who were more compliant with treatment and had better functioning were less likely to relapse.
When examining the SF36, Boyer found that although MCS provided valuable information into cognitive and mental functioning, the SF36-PCS was more indicative of relapse. Specifically, the participants who had poor physical functioning had higher rates of relapse. Boyer believes that the stress put on the participant, as well as the burden to family members and caregivers, could increase the risk for relapse in those with diminished physical capacities. This finding suggests that clinicians should be attentive to not only the mental components of illness trajectory, but also the physical ones. Boyer added, “The subjective physical well-being of patients with schizophrenia should thus be considered by clinicians as an important predictor of relapse, in the same way that psychological aspects are considered.”
Boyer, Laurent, Aurelie Millier, Emeline Perthame, Samuel Aballea, Pascal Auquier, and Mondher Toumi. Quality of life is predictive of relapse in schizophrenia. BMC Psychiatry 13.1 (2013): 1-8. Print.
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