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The relationship of social network deficits with deficits in social functioning in long-term psychiatric disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK.


It has been suggested that deficits or impairments in social functioning may explain the depleted support networks of the mentally ill. With this in mind, 145 long-term users of day care psychiatric facilities, 57% of whom had a life-time diagnosis of schizophrenia, were examined to determine whether deficits in social and survival skills explained deficits in their social networks. Compared with patients with acute depression, long-term patients had smaller social networks. There was a very small but statistically significant association between observer ratings of deficits in social functioning (daily social and living skills) and self-reported family social networks size. Behavioural problems were also associated with smaller family networks. Among the long-term patients, duration of service contact and type of disorder (affective vs nonaffective psychosis) were not related to network size. These preliminary findings are discussed.

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