Perceived social support and community adaptation in schizophrenia


Emeritus Professor Michael Clinton Ashford Community Hospital, 55 Anzac Highway, South Australia 5035.


Prompted by the continuing transition to community care, mental health nurses are considering the role of social support in community adaptation. This article demonstrates the importance of distinguishing between kinds of social support and presents findings from the first round data of a longitudinal study of community adaptation in 156 people with schizophrenia conducted in Brisbane, Australia. All clients were interviewed using the relevant subscales of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to confirm a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia. The study set out to investigate the relationship between community adaptation and social support. Community adaptation was measured with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Life Skills Profile (LSP) and measures of dissatisfaction with life and problems in daily living developed by the authors. Social support was measured with the Arizona Social Support Interview Schedule (ASSIS). The BPRS and ASSIS were incorporated into a client interview conducted by trained interviewers. The LSP was completed on each client by an informal carer (parent, relative or friend) or a professional carer (case manager or other health professional) nominated by the client. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between community adaptation and four sets of social support variables. Given the order in which variables were entered in regression equations, a set of perceived social support variables was found to account for the largest unique variance of four measures of community adaptation in 96 people with schizophrenia for whom complete data are available from the first round of the three-wave longitudinal study. A set of the subjective experiences of the clients accounted for the largest unique variance in measures of symptomatology, life skills, dissatisfaction with life, and problems in daily living. Sets of community support, household support and functional variables accounted for less variance. Implications for mental health nursing practice are considered.