The association of gender and marital status with quality of life (QoL) was studied in a representative national sample of long-term schizophrenia patients.
The study sample consisted of 1,750 male and 1,506 female 15- to 64-year-old schizophrenia patients discharged from mental hospitals in 1986, 1990 and 1994 in Finland. Comprehensive data were collected from hospital and out-patient case records and the psychiatric teams carried out a structured interview regarding the patients' socio-demographic background, living places, living situation, psycho-social state and functioning and life satisfaction three years after the index discharge.
Female patients were older, more often married, had been ill for a longer time and had moved after discharge from hospital to live alone or with their spouse more often than men. Women and married patients had migrated more often than men and single patients, but single men had more often remained living in a remote rural area than others. The QoL of single men was poorer than others in almost all the areas in which it was measured: housing conditions, working, daily functioning, number of confidants and psycho-social state. Differences between single women and married men or women were much smaller. Women, independently of their marital status, were more satisfied with their life, had more close interpersonal relationships and had done useful work more often than men.
Single male patients with schizophrenia seem to have dropped out of the development of society. They remain living in their birthplace and are more dependent than other patients. Single women migrate more consistently into urban areas, which may be favourable for their QoL. Married patients with schizophrenia, possibly partly helped by their spouse, can best follow changes in the society. Female gender also seems to have an independent association with life satisfaction and interpersonal aspects of the QoL. The results of this study strongly emphasise that the associations between gender, marital status and QoL to a great extent depend on the study sample and may also vary by study area.