Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 May 2011
Aims – Psychiatric patients often are not informed about their diagnosis and their involvement in the decision making process is rare. Aim of the study was to explore the informative needs of patients with schizophrenia and the knowledge about their illness. Method – Three focus groups were conducted with 25 long-stay patients with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, attending the Mental Health Centre of the South-Verona Community-based Mental Health Service. The group discussions were audiotaped and transcribed. Results – The authors identified 18 different thematic categories which were used by two raters to classify all patient contributions. The interrater reliability was satisfactory. The qualitative analysis evidenced that patients have little knowledge about their illness. Patients had confuse and vague ideas on schizophrenia but their knowledge on drug names, dosages and side effects appeared precise and detailed. Several patients have looked for information in encyclopedias and medical dictionaries. Conclusion – The findings suggest a need of patients affected by schizophrenia for an information exchange with their psychiatrists that takes into account their informative needs, corrects wrong beliefs and actively involves them in therapeutic decisions.