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To assess the satisfaction of patients and their relatives with psychiatric care and to identify variables associated with any dissatisfaction.
The study was performed in a defined psychiatric catchment area in south Rome, Italy. All eligible patients and relatives who had contacts with services during a predefined period were asked to participate. Satisfaction with psychiatric services was measured with a previously validated questionnaire.
A total of 890 patients were asked to participate in the study and 855 (96%) accepted. Also, 270 relatives were asked to participate and 265 (98%) agreed. The satisfaction with services expressed by outpatients and their relatives was fairly good, with the exception of poor satisfaction with information about treatment and involvement in the treatment programme. The satisfaction of inpatients and their relatives was significantly lower, with the issue of information-giving by staff appearing particularly critical. Among patients, variables associated with dissatisfaction were being an inpatient, having a diagnosis of psychosis, being in contact with services for more than 6 years, and being single. Among relatives, being female and being the relative of an inpatient were associated with dissatisfaction. For both patients and relatives, receiving inpatient care was the strongest predictor of dissatisfaction.
The results suggest that inpatient care, especially for psychotic patients, needs to be improved and that special attention should be devoted to inform adequately and to engage in treatment both patients and their relatives. Lack of information appears to be a crucial determinant of dissatisfaction with psychiatric care among both patients and their relatives.
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