The quality of the patient-psychiatrist relationship can be seen as a cornerstone of adherence to medications in patients with chronic psychiatric disorders. Although therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy has been investigated broadly, it has received little attention in the context of medication adherence. The goal of this study was to develop and validate a user-friendly questionnaire for the assessment of therapeutic alliance in clinically stable outpatients with schizophrenia.
The “Brief Questionnaire on Therapeutic Alliance” (BQTA) addresses both the physician and the patient, each of whom responds to 5 items that focus on important domains of the therapeutic alliance. Psychopathology was assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and patients’ attitudes toward the illness and medication were assessed using the Drug Attitude Inventory (DAI).
A total of 61 patients who met ICD-10 criteria for schizophrenia spectrum disorders and their treating psychiatrists were included in the study. Overall, patients and psychiatrists gave high (ie, favorable) ratings on all BQTA items. The 5 patient-related items showed high internal consistency (Cronbach α=0.77), whereas physician-related items showed slightly less internal consistency (Cronbach α=0.68). The concordance between patient and physician ratings was fair, although statistically significant (κ=0.33, P=0.007). Physicians’ total score on the BQTA was moderately correlated with patients’ PANSS total score and with the DAI total score and its compliance subscale, whereas patients’ total score on the BQTA did not correlate with DAI or PANSS scores.
The BQTA was found to cover crucial aspects of the doctor-patient relationship in chronically ill individuals with schizophrenia. Further validation will shed more light on the usefulness of this questionnaire.