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Patients’ and healthcare professionals’ perspectives on a community-based intervention for schizophrenia in Pakistan: A focus group study

Khattak, Maria Ishaq, Dikomitis, Lisa, Khan, Muhammad Firaz, Haq, Mukhtar Ul, Saeed, Umaima, Awan, Naila Riaz, Haq, Zia Ul, Shepherd, Thomas, Mallen, Christian D., Farooq, Saeed and others. (2022) Patients’ and healthcare professionals’ perspectives on a community-based intervention for schizophrenia in Pakistan: A focus group study. PLOS ONE, 17 (8). Article Number e0273286. ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0273286) (KAR id:96666)


Objective: To explore the perceptions and experiences of schizophrenia from patients, their care givers, health care providers, spiritual and traditional healers to develop a community-based intervention for improving treatment adherence for people with schizophrenia in Pakistan. Methods: This qualitative study involved four focus group discussions (FGD) with a total of 26 participants: patients and carers (n = 5), primary care staff (n = 7), medical technicians (n = 8) and traditional and spiritual healers (n = 6). The participants were selected using purposive sampling method. FGDs were audio-recorded and transcribed. A thematic analysis was applied to the data set. Results: The themes identified were (i) Schizophrenia is not merely a biomedical problem: participants believed that poverty and an inferiority complex resulting from social disparity caused schizophrenia and contributed to non-adherence to medications; (ii) Spiritual healing goes hand in hand with the medical treatment: participants regarded spiritual and traditional treatment methods as an inherent part of schizophrenia patients’ well-being and rehabilitation; (iii) Services for mental illness: mental health is not covered under primary health in a basic health unit: participants believed that the lack of services, training and necessary medication in primary care are major issues for treating schizophrenia in community; (iv) Barriers to community-based interventions: primary care staff believed that multiple pressures on staff, lack of incentives, non-availability of medication and lack of formal referral pathways resulted in disintegration of dealing with schizophrenia patients in primary care facilities. Conclusion: The study has identified a number of barriers and facilitators to developing and delivering a psychosocial intervention to support people living with schizophrenia in Pakistan. In particular, the importance of involving spiritual and traditional healers was highlighted by our diverse group of stakeholders.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273286
Additional information: ** From PLOS via Jisc Publications Router ** History: received 24-11-2020; collection 2022; accepted 05-08-2022; epub 29-08-2022. ** Licence for this article:
Uncontrolled keywords: Research Article, Medicine and health sciences, Social sciences, Research and analysis methods, Earth sciences
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Kent and Medway Medical School
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2022 08:36 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Dikomitis, Lisa.

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