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Keywords:

  • quality of life;
  • schizophrenia;
  • Hong Kong;
  • nursing;
  • stigma;
  • discrimination

Background.  Because of the deinstitutionalization of mental health care in Hong Kong that has taken place since the 1980s, many people with mental health problems are being cared for in the community. The majority of clients have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and many have a long duration of illness and multiple readmissions. There is concern about their quality of life.

Aim.  To investigate quality of life and related factors in clients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in Hong Kong.

Design.  A convenience sample was recruited from a psychiatric outpatient department. Structured face-to-face interviews were conducted using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and the Hong Kong Chinese World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale-Brief Version.

Results.  A total of 172 people participated in the study. Most of them were single and unemployed. They were least satisfied with their psychological health, financial situation, life enjoyment and sexual activity. Women (n = 91) reported less satisfaction with quality of life than men (n = 86). Unemployed people (n = 100) were less satisfied with their quality of life than the employed (n = 76). Higher levels of mental health problems and higher numbers of previous hospitalizations were associated with negative perceptions of quality of life.

Discussion.  People with mental health problems had significantly less satisfaction with their quality of life than a sample from the general population in Hong Kong surveyed in a previous study. As well as experiencing distressing mental symptoms, they had many difficulties, such as financial problems, unemployment and lack of opportunities to participate in social activities, that resulted from stigma and discrimination. These had a great impact on their quality of life.

Study limitations.  Because of the small sample size and its convenience nature, the findings may not be generalizable to all clients in Hong Kong. A generic instrument was used to measure quality of life, and this may not have been sensitive to certain aspects of mental health clients’ lives.

Conclusion.  The findings suggest that there is a need to strengthen social and vocational rehabilitation for people with mental health problems in Hong Kong. A more holistic and intensive model of care is required to meet their complex needs. A larger and more diverse sample should be used in future research, and a quality of life measure specifically designed for people with mental health problems should be used.