Thursday, July 03, 2008

Americans Have a Low Schizophrenia IQ

Schizophrenia is twice as common in the U.S. as HIV/AIDS, yet most Americans are unfamiliar with the disease.

The knowledge gap is something detailed in a new survey by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).  The report, conducted by Harris Interactive, provides a good glimpse of what the public knows and doesn’t know.

The survey found the average age at onset was 21, but a nine-year gap exists between symptoms and treatment.  Other findings include:

  • 85% of Americans recognize schizophrenia as an illness, 79% believe that with treatment, people with the diagnosis can lead independent lives, but only 24% are familiar with it. Many cannot recognize symptoms or mistakenly believe they include "split" or multiple personalities (64%).
  • 79% want friends to tell them if they have schizophrenia, but only 46% say they would themselves. Even with treatment, 49% are uncomfortable with the prospect of dating a person with schizophrenia.
  • Among people living with schizophrenia, 49% said doctors take their medical problems less seriously, even though the report notes that the death rate from causes like heart disease or diabetes is 2-3 times that of the general population.
  • A vast majority believe that better medications (96%) and health insurance (82%) would be most helpful to improving their condition,
  • Caregivers agree better medications are needed. Approximately 80% have difficulty getting services for loved ones, 63% have difficulty finding time for themselves, and 41% have provided care for more than 10 years.