The aftermath of the reduction in inpatient care and treatment II: cross-sectional study relating to the health, the need for care, the quality of life, social functioning and the integration in society of chronic mental patients in Amsterdam
background The move from less hospital care to more community-based care was expected to have positive results for long-term mental patients. It was believed that independent living would improve the quality of life and promote better social functioning and better integration into society. The basic idea was that the needs of patients would be better served by outpatient care.
aim To map particulars relating to illness symptoms, functioning, care needs, quality of life, extent and features of the social network and social integration of a group of long-term psychiatric patients in Amsterdam 15 years after the closure of the Santpoort psychiatric hospital.
method Interviews and questionnaires were used to obtain information from a stratified sample of long-term mental patients in the care of the mental health organisations in Amsterdam.
results 323 patients and those who were treating them were interviewed. Most group members were fairly elderly and one-third suffered from schizophrenia. More than half of the group had long-term psychiatric problems. Most of the patients were in poor health, half of the group had somatic symptoms and a quarter abused alcohol or drugs. Patients and doctors had varying views on whether patients’ needs had been met. Patients had few social contacts. About one-third of these social contacts were with fellow-patients. Patients living independently caused few or no problems in the city. However, these patients were more often victim of discrimination, social exclusion and criminality.
conclusion Many patients with long-term mental illness considered their current quality of life to be reasonably good and were satisfied with the health care they received. However, the limited number of social contacts, inadequate integration into society and the poor health of many patients are matters that still give cause for concern.