Religious beliefs in schizophrenia: Their relevance for adherence to treatment

Borras Laurence, Mohr Sylvia, Brandt Pierre-Yves, Gillièron Christiane, Eytan Ariel, Huguelet Philippe, 2007/09. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 33 (5) pp. 1238-1246.

The study examined how religious beliefs and practices impact upon medication and illness representations in chronic schizophrenia. One hundred three stabilized patients were included in Geneva’s outpatient public psychiatric facility in Switzerland. Interviews were conducted to investigate spiritual and religious beliefs and religious practices and religious coping. Medication adherence was assessed through questions to patients and to their psychiatrists and by a systematic blood drug monitoring. Thirty-two percent of patients were partially or totally nonadherent to oral medication. Fifty-eight percent of patients were Christians, 2% Jewish, 3% Muslim, 4% Buddhist, 14% belonged to various minority or syncretic religious movements, and 19% had no religious affiliation. Two thirds of the total sample considered spirituality as very important or even essential in everyday life. Fifty-seven percent of patients had a representation of their illness directly influenced by their spiritual beliefs (positively in 31% and negatively in 26%). Religious representations of illness were prominent in nonadherent patients. Thirty-one percent of nonadherent patients and 27% of partially adherent patients underlined an incompatibility or contradiction between their religion and taking medication, versus 8% of adherent patients. Religion and spirituality contribute to shaping representations of disease and attitudes toward medical treatment in patients with schizophrenia. This dimension should be on the agenda of psychiatrists working with patients with schizophrenia.