Background. Subjective quality of life has gained a crucial role as a global measure of outcome in mental health care. This study aimed to investigate the impact of meeting needs for care, as assessed by both patients and mental health professionals, to improve the subjective quality of life in a sample of patients receiving community-based psychiatric care.
Method. The study was conducted using a 4-year prospective longitudinal design. A cohort of patients from the South-Verona Community-based Mental Health Service (CMHS) was assessed at baseline and follow-up using, among other social and clinical measures, the Camberwell Assessment of Need (both staff and patient versions) and the Lancashire Quality of Life Profile. Predictors of changes of subjective quality of life were explored using block-stratified multiple regression procedures.
Results. Improvement in patients' clinical conditions as well as the reduction in patient-rated unmet needs in the social domain predicted an increase in subjective quality of life over 4 years; changes in staff-rated needs did not show any association with changes in subjective quality of life.
Conclusions. Meeting self-perceived social needs, beyond symptoms reduction, seems to be of particular importance for ensuring a better quality of life for people with mental disorders. If the main goal of mental health care is to improve the quality of life of users, a policy of actively addressing patient-rated needs should be implemented.