BACKGROUND: Improved quality of life (QOL) of patients suffering from major psychoses has become an important treatment goal. We sought to determine predictors of perceived QOL and to explore the changes that occur regarding QOL among individuals with schizophrenia as compared to patients with schizoaffective/mood disorders. METHOD: In a naturalistic longitudinal design, 148 inpatients with schizophrenia and 51 inpatients with schizoaffective/mood disorders (DSM-IV) were tracked for 16 months (SD = 4.6 months). Subjects were assessed at 2 timepoints for psychopathology, stress process-related factors, and perceived QOL, as measured by the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire. Predictors of fluctuations in QOL index scores during the follow-up period were identified using multiple regression techniques. RESULTS: We found that poor QOL is not a more severe problem for schizophrenia patients than for schizoaffective/mood disorder patients. Improved QOL of schizophrenia patients is associated with reduced paranoid and distress (obsessiveness, somatization) symptoms and increased self-efficacy and self-esteem ratings. Individual changes in QOL index scores among patients with schizoaffective/mood disorders are associated with changes in depression, sensitivity, expressed emotion, and task-oriented coping scores. CONCLUSION: Predictors of changes in satisfaction with life quality over time among schizophrenia patients are distinct from those associated with schizoaffective/mood disorders. Changes in stress process-related factors, rather than psychopathology, predict change in perceived QOL and should be considered when evaluating QOL outcomes.
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