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The Impact of Health Status on Work, Symptoms, and Functional Outcomes in Severe Mental Illness


The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 2001 - Volume 189 - Issue 1 - p 17-23

This study evaluated the relationships between self-ratings of physical role functioning and general health, two components of the MOS SF-36, and a variety of demographic, quality of life, clinical, functional, and attitudinal variables in a cohort of adults living with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). We hypothesized that poorer self-perceptions of physical functioning and general health would be significantly related to more severe symptoms and poorer functioning and quality of life. Study subjects were 218 adults with SPMI enrolled in a randomized controlled trial comparing two vocational interventions for persons who were unemployed. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to determine whether psychiatric symptoms, poorer self-perceptions of role limitations due to physical health problems and overall general health independently contributed to more severe symptoms and poorer functioning and quality of life. Psychiatric symptoms were inversely related to size of social network and satisfaction with safety. Increased role limitations were associated with reduced medication compliance, general life satisfaction, and satisfaction with health, daily activities, and safety. Reduced general health was significantly associated with reduced work motivation, self-esteem, current inability to work, self-report of functioning, and almost all subjective life satisfaction domains. Within this group of people with severe mental illness, psychiatric symptoms were minimally associated with outcomes. Physical role limitations contributed more, and an integrated global measure of overall health perception was most important. If we are to help persons with severe mental illness maximize their quality of life and functioning, our clinical interventions should employ an approach that appreciates and recognizes the importance of the patients' experience of a holistic and integrated experience of health.

1 University of Maryland, Center for Mental Health Services Research, 701 West Pratt Street, Room 476, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. Send reprint requests to Dr. Dixon.

This publication was made possible by cooperative agreement number UD7 SM51824 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.