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Is Housing a Predictor of Autonomy and Quality of Life of People with Severe Mental Illness? Implications for Social Work

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For people with severe mental illness (SMI), housing type based on the level of professional input and support is an important factor in maintaining health. Housing impacts on quality of life (QOL); however, studies have not comprehensively explained the relationship between the types of housing and QOL. This scoping review investigates the relationship between the quality of life of people living with severe mental illness, housing, and objective sense of autonomy. Nine online databases were searched for studies published from 2000 onwards that identified research studies of adults with severe mental illness living in a variety of housing types. Fourteen studies met the eligibility criteria. The findings show that supported housing that offered access to trained staff led to a higher QOL and in turn an increase in autonomy. Allowing residents to choose their preferred type of housing also increased their QOL. Nonsupported group housing allowed for the development of friendships, which in turn had a positive impact on QOL, but there was little evidence to support this model. Despite this, social isolation and victimisation were areas of concern. This review adds to the body of evidence against transinstitutionalisation and emphasises the need for ongoing psychosocial interventions and support for people living with SMI in community settings.


Different housing options for residents living with severe mental illness can impact their quality of life.

Policymakers and practitioners need to consider the impact of the level of support and sense of autonomy on the quality of life of residents living in supported and nonsupported housing.

Social work can contribute professional expertise in developing a policy or framework to improve quality of life in society.
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Keywords: Adult Mental Illness; Quality of Life; Social Work; Supported Housing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Health, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Publication date: October 2, 2018

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