Purpose: This study (a) assessed quality of life (QoL) in a patient sample with severe mental illness in an integrated psychiatric care (IC) programme in selected regions in Germany, (b) compared QoL among diagnostic groups and (c) identified socio-demographic, psychiatric anamnestic and clinical characteristics associated with QoL.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included severely mentally ill outpatients with substantial impairments in social functioning. Separate dimensions of QoL were assessed with the World Health Organisation’s generic 26-item quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF) instrument. Descriptive analyses and analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted for the overall sample as well as for diagnostic group.
Results: A total of 953 patients fully completed the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire. QoL in this sample was lower than in the general population (mean 34.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) 32.8 to 35.5), with the lowest QoL in unipolar depression patients (mean 30.5; 95% CI 28.9 to 32.2) and the highest in dementia patients (mean 53.0; 95% CI 47.5 to 58.5). Main psychiatric diagnosis, living situation (alone, partner/relatives, assisted), number of disease episodes, source of income, age and clinical global impression (CGI) scores were identified as potential predictors of QoL, but explained only a small part of the variation.
Conclusion: Aspects of health care that increase QoL despite the presence of a mental disorder are essential for severely mentally ill patients, as complete freedom from the disorder cannot be expected. QoL as a patient-centred outcome should be used as only one component among the recovery measures evaluating treatment outcomes in mental health care.