Understandings of spirituality and its role in illness recovery in persons with schizophrenia and mental-health professionals: A qualitative study

Rainbow Tin Hung HO, Caitlin Kar Pui CHAN, Phyllis Hau Yan LO, Ping Ho WONG, Cecilia Lai Wan CHAN, Pui Yu Pamela LEUNG, Eric Yu Hai CHEN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Spirituality has received increased attention in the psychiatric literature; however, it remains underexplored on a global level. Knowledge about spirituality of persons with schizophrenia is often hampered by positive and negative symptoms, which limit their expression of spiritual needs and shift mental-health professionals' focus from spiritual care to symptom control. Differences in the ways that the two parties understand spirituality may create different expectations and further hinder the provision of high-quality holistic care. This study investigated the meaning and roles of spirituality from the perspectives of persons with schizophrenia and mental-health professionals. Methods: A qualitative design with semi-structured individual interviews was adopted. The analysis was based on data collected from interviews with 18 clients diagnosed with schizophrenia and 19 mental-health professionals from public hospitals and mental-health community rehabilitation centres in Hong Kong. Data were collected and analysed based on grounded theory principles. Results: Both clients and professionals regarded spirituality as an inherent part of a person's well-being, clients' rehabilitation, and their lives in general. At the personal level, the clients' descriptions were more factual, concrete, short term, and affective, whereas the professionals' descriptions were more abstract, complex, and cognitive. At the communal level, both parties had a similar understanding of spirituality but different interpretations of its role in recovery from mental illness. The clients regarded spirituality as a source of giving and receiving love and care, whereas the professionals regarded it as a means of receiving support and managing symptoms. Conclusions: Building a common understanding on the concept of spirituality and the significant role it plays in rehabilitation between clients and mental-health professionals is an essential first step to support clients' spiritual health. Clients tend to seek for stability, peace, and growth rather than an existential quest; while professionals hold a more pathological perspective, viewing spirituality as a means to relieve symptoms, increase social acceptance, and cope with illness experiences. The differential understanding of the two perspectives provides insight and perhaps a roadmap for developing spiritual assessments and holistic care in the psychiatric context. Copyright © 2016 Ho et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Citation

Ho, R. T. H., Chan, C. K. P., Lo, P. H. Y., Wong, P. H., Chan, C. L. W., Leung, P. P. Y., & Chen, E. Y. H. (2016). Understandings of spirituality and its role in illness recovery in persons with schizophrenia and mental-health professionals: A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 16. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12888-016-0796-7

Keywords

  • Grounded theory
  • Holistic care
  • Mental-health professional
  • Persons with schizophrenia
  • Qualitative methods
  • Spirituality

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