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Psychiatrists’ Perceptions Of What Determines Outcomes For People Diagnosed With Schizophrenia In Vietnam

Seiji H Humphries, Robert J King, Michael P Dunne, Nguyen H Cat


Objectives: Research about the outcomes of schizophrenia and the factors that determine them in developing countries is still limited. In this study, we interviewed experienced Vietnamese psychiatrists to examine their perspectives on outcome determinants in their country. The qualitative approach aimed to complement existing epidemiological knowledge and contribute to debate around the hypothesis that recovery is better in developing countries. 

Methods: Fifteen Vietnamese psychiatrists working in five leading psychiatric facilities participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic content analysis of their expressed views identified three themes related to important outcome determinants in Vietnam: access to contemporary treatment, established patient-level prognostic indicators, and sociocultural variables. 

Results: The improving accessibility of modern treatment (including new medications, specialist staff and facilities) and increasing community adoption of a medical perspective on mental illness were seen as factors leading to improved outcomes, particularly in urban areas. However, some psychiatrists also identified the potentially beneficial nature of some aspects of Vietnamese society and culture being eroded by modernization, including traditional family structures, forms of employment and lifestyles. 

Conclusions: The perspectives of psychiatrists in this study suggest that socioeconomic change may be exerting conflicting influences on the outcomes of schizophrenia in Vietnam and other developing countries. Their views have implications in terms of how adequate treatment and support for people with severe mental illness can be provided in the context of limited resources, staffing and formal treatment options. Further research is needed to establish current recovery rates and prospectively explore the impact of modernization on outcomes.

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Schizophrenia; Developing Countries; Qualitative Research

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