Date: 13 Nov 2007

The dilemma of insight into illness in schizophrenia: self- and expert-rated insight and quality of life

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Abstract

Introduction

A major subgroup of patients with acute schizophrenia lacks awareness of having a mental disorder. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of self- and expert-rated insight into illness with subjective quality of life (QOL). It was hypothesised that patients with greater self- and expert-rated insight into illness report lower QOL compared to patients with poor insight.

Method

For the present study, patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders were investigated during in-patient treatment. Insight into illness was measured by the scale to assess unawareness of a mental disorder (SUMD), the insight scale and the PANSS. QOL was assessed with the modular system of quality of life (MSQoL).

Results

Fifty-nine patients entered the study. Self- and expert-rated illness insight were associated with poor QOL. Patients with good insight into illness reported significantly lower physical health (p < 0.05), vitality (p < 0.01), psychosocial (p < 0.01), affective (p < 0.01) and general QOL (p < 0.001) compared to patients with poor insight. Good insight was significantly associated with other parameters of clinical and social functioning and depressive symptoms.

Discussion

The results indicate that patients with acute schizophrenia and greater insight realise their restrictions more clearly, which contribute to poor QOL, but were stronger integrated in social networks. The inclusion of modules focussing on QOL related aspects of treatment from the beginning as well as a greater awareness of the physician for these questions and a strengthening of the therapeutic alliance might help improving insight without the risk of deteriorating mood and QOL.