Aims – To describe what users with schizophrenia think about the causes of their disorder. Methods – In each of the 10 participating Italian mental health centres, 25 users with schizophrenia were consecutively recruited and asked to complete the Users' Opinions Questionnaire (UOQ). Results – 150 out of 198 respondents mentioned at least one social cause for their mental disorder, and 114 reported exclusively social causes. Family conflicts were the most frequently reported social cause (21%), followed by traumas (20%), work and study difficulties (17%), and psychological disturbances (17%). Ten percent of the respondents mentioned biological causes. Biological causes were more frequently reported by users who were aware of their diagnosis of schizophrenia, whereas social causes by those who just knew they suffered from a psychosis. Difficulties in social relationships were more frequently pointed out by respondents with an earlier onset of the illness and a higher number of compulsory admissions in the previous 12 months. These users expressed more scepticism about the usefulness of the treatments they received, and perceived a greater social distance. Conclusions – Users' beliefs about the causes of their disorder should be taken into account by psychiatrists in order to improve their working alliance with them.
Declaration of Interest: None of the authors has had any interest or he/she has received any form of support, including that from drug companies and honoraria for lectures and consultancies, potentially in conflict with this scientific work. None of the authors has received any form of fee for his/her participation in this study. This study was supported by a grant received from the “M. Lugli” Foundation (grant no. 2–18–8).