Social Support and Religion: Mental Health Service Use and Treatment of Schizophrenia

The perceptions and religious beliefs held by family members, mental health and health care professionals, and the community
may affect the treatment of individuals with schizophrenia. To better identify and understand the influence of families, professionals
and community members on individual’s treatment for schizophrenia, this review paper examines: (1) the religious perceptions
of families, professionals, and the public towards schizophrenia; (2) religious perceptions of the etiology of schizophrenia;
(3) how others perceive religion as a coping mechanism; and (4) how religion influences treatment engagement and help-seeking
behaviors. MEDLINE and PsycInfo databases were systematically searched from 1980 to 2010 using the terms schizophrenia, schizoaffective,
schizophreniform, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified and religion, religiosity, spirituality, and faith. Forty-three
(n = 43) original research studies met the inclusion criteria. This study found that religious beliefs influence the treatment
of schizophrenia in the following ways: Religious themes were positively associated with coping, treatment engagement and
help-seeking behavior. Evidence of religious underpinnings was found in perceptions of etiology. The findings also indicate
that there is often both a preference among family members and caregivers to utilize religious-based professionals and caution
toward mental health professionals. Researchers and professionals may find avenues for improving treatment through examining
the interaction of religious and schizophrenia at the social support level.

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