OBJECTIVE: To examine existential questions in the daily life of people with schizophrenia and their caregivers. METHODS: Qualitative study with focus groups. 146 people with schizophrenia (55% men) and 80 caregivers (75% women) participated. They came predominantly from primary and secondary health services of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain, England and Venezuela. Each group had between six and ten participants. The data was explored through a content analysis process. RESULTS: Four omnipresent existential themes were identified from the discussions: the need for personal development and to find meaning in life; the need to be respected and not suffer discrimination or stigma; the conflict resulting from the loss of autonomy; the importance of understanding the illness and recognizing it as an illness. The existential questions were closely associated with objective needs, such as the lack of occupational opportunities and employment, which generally result in a life without meaning. CONCLUSIONS: It is necessary to develop a new type of health care in which both the consideration for the person with schizophrenia and their subjectivity are as important as biological treatment. Health promotion strategies need to combat stigma and use mechanisms of occupational inclusion.
Schizophrenia; Schizophrenic Psychology; Health Knowledge; Attitudes; Practice; Existentialism; Qualitative Research