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n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Continuity of care of outpatients with schizophrenia in Pretoria
Objective. To study the needs of outpatients suffering from schizophrenia and their primary caregivers.
Methods. A qualitative descriptive design was selected to study the needs of a non-probability purposive sample of 50 outpatients with schizophrenia and their primary caregivers. Data were collected on their compliance-related needs as well as psychosocial and aftercare treatment needs.
Results. Compliance needs: Eighty-three per cent of the participants supported their medication treatment and aftercare, but needed more information on the illness than they had received or had managed to gather.
Psychosocial needs: Participants had difficulty in accepting the illness and in understanding its consequences for their everyday functioning. Ninety-seven per cent of patients were aware that their illness had affected the health of their primary caregiver. The majority of participants had lost friendships since the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Eighty-eight of the primary caregivers supported the patient financially, despite the fact that many were over 60 years of age.
Aftercare treatment needs: A strong need was expressed for services such as day-care centres, workshops, and psychoeducational and social work services.
Conclusions. As South African health policy is moving towards de-institutionalisation and treating mental health as part of primary care, support must be improved for sufferers of schizophrenia and their primary caregivers. Many people are prepared to face up to the challenge of caring for a mentally ill family member, yet are faced with significant needs that should be addressed.
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