184034 Coping with schizophrenia: The role of personal beliefs and practices

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jennifer A. Nolan, MS, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Objectives:. Enhance understanding of coping strategies and their development among adults with schizophrenia from a first person perspective within an American and Tanzanian community. The role religion, spirituality and traditional beliefs and practices play in helping people to cope with their illness is the focus of this project.


Study Design of the U.S. Study : This is a cross-sectional study, with quantitative and qualitative questions in an audio-taped interview. One hundred participants, with schizophrenia are selected using a convenience sampling method from mental health clinics at Duke and the community.


Preliminary Results of U.S. Study: Preliminary results (n=58) reveal that 71 percent of the U.S. sample reported that religion was essential in coping with their mental illness. Among private spiritual activities, 82% in the U.S. sample report praying at least once per day. The sample is mostly African-Americans (60%) and Baptist (61%). Main qualitative themes emerging are an increased trust in God and faith since becoming ill.

Tanzania: A similarly themed project on psychosocial coping is planned for the Kilimanjaro region, in Tanzania, Africa. The project will explore psychosocial factors and perceptions of schizophrenia through qualitative interviews among outpatients, clinicians, traditional healers, family members, and religious leaders. From this work will develop a mental health education initiative (to reduce stigma and increase accessibility of services) within local churches and schools, the two main infrastructures in the community.

Conclusions: This research has quality of life, treatment and cost of care implications for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize role of personal beliefs in coping with schizophrenia 2. Identify qualitative themes of the role of personal beliefs in coping among individuals living with schizophrenia. 3. Describe possible application of research findings to inform health care professionals and the community.

Keywords: Mental Illness, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am conducting research on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.