Background. While most studies of quality of life (QoL) in schizophrenia have investigated long-term patients, relatively little is known about QoL early in the illness and how it changes over time. This study was conducted to investigate objective and subjective quality of life in first-admitted schizophrenia patients as compared to patients with long-term schizophrenia, changes between first admission and 9-month follow-up and predictors of changes.
Method. Eighty-six patients were examined after first admission and 51 were re-interviewed at follow-up. Results were compared with samples of in-patients and out-patients with long-term schizophrenia. QoL was assessed using a German version of the Lancashire Quality of Life Profile.
Results. Although some objective QoL data were more favourable in first-admitted patients, subjective QoL was lower than in each of the other two groups, even when psychopathology and age were controlled for. On a group level, patients showed a slight improvement in subjective QoL, which was not statistically significant. Individual changes over time were not predicted by initial data, but were correlated with changes in anxiety/depression.
Conclusion. Subjective QoL appears to be lower in first-admitted schizophrenics than in groups with long-term illness and, on a group level, it changes little within 9 months. On an individual level, changes in depressive symptoms need to be considered when interpreting changes in satisfaction with life.