Faculty Articles

Title

Free Will Perceptions and Psychiatric Symptoms in Patients with Schizophrenia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2016

Keywords

adult, female, humans, male, middle aged, personal autonomy, schizophrenia, schizophrenic psychology

Publication Title

Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

ISSN

1365-2850

Volume

23

Issue/No.

3-4

Abstract

UNLABELLED: WHAT IS KNOWN ON THE SUBJECT?: Some research suggests that holding a free will perspective may offer mental health and physical health benefits. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS TO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: This study is the first to examine links between free will perceptions and psychiatric symptoms in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE?: Study results suggest that helping people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia to recognize situations where they do have some freedom of choice over their actions and emotional reactions (free will) may assist them in improving their experiences and better managing their symptoms.

ABSTRACT: Introduction Some research indicates that having a strong sense that one possesses free will may be associated with better psychological and physical health. This study is the first to examine the relationship between free will perceptions and psychiatric symptoms in patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Method Thirty-two participants were interviewed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale to assess symptom severity and the Free Will Subscale of the Free Will and Determinism Scale to assess free will perceptions. Results As hypothesized, a negative association was found between free will perceptions and total symptom severity, though it appears that this was mainly accounted for by positive symptoms. A content analysis was also conducted to qualitatively examine how patients conceptualize the construct of free will and its role in coping with their own mental illness. Discussion Study results suggest that holding a free will perspective may mitigate psychiatric symptoms in patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Thus, psychiatric nurses and other mental health clinicians may improve current treatments for schizophrenia by helping patients recognize situations where they do have some freedom of choice over their actions and emotional reactions (free will) to stressful life events.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12293

PubMed ID

27040134

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