Social network as a determinant of pathway to mental health service utilization among psychotic patients in a Nigerian hospital

  • VO Lasebikan
  • ET Owoaje
  • MC Asuzu
Keywords: Alternative sources of care, psychotics, service utilization, social networks


Objective: The main objectives of the study were to determine the  relationship between social network and pathway to service utilization among psychotic patients.
Materials and Methods: This descriptive study was carried out in a  psychiatric unit in a general hospital in South West Nigeria. Using structured questionnaires, primary data were collected from 652 psychotic patients on their social network, health behaviors and pathway to current service use. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the effect of social network on patients' use of services, controlling for sociodemographics, health and functional status.
Results: Mean age of the respondents was 29.0 ± 7.5 years, range 14-58 years, males constituted 52.6%. Regarding pathway to services, alternative sources of care such as priests, spiritualists, natural therapists, herbalists, was the first port of call for 78.9% of respondents. Family dominated the social network in 51.1% of patients. The presence of some social network and social support structures were significantly associated with the use of general medical and specialty psychiatric services for patients with  schizophrenia (P = 0.03), schizoaffective disorder (P = 0.02), bipolar I disorder (P = 0.01), but not with major depression and symptoms of  psychological distress.
Conclusions: Findings indicate that social support and social network  enhanced utilization of mental health services for psychiatric patients except for those with psychotic depression or those with symptoms of psychological distress. In addition, alternative sources of care are still relevant in mental health service delivery in South West Nigeria.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-3519