Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


In the current era of deinstitutionalization, community-based residential programs for people with chronic psychiatric disabilities have mushroomed in Canada and the United States. While many researchers have documented the beneficial effects of supportive housing programs on resident’s work productivity and length of community tenure, few evaluations have included an examination of resident’s housing environment and the quality of life in the community, particularly from the perspective of the residents themselves. This paper describes such an evaluation. The study’s first objective was to ascertain those housing environment characteristics that are most strongly related to residents’ perceived quality of life. To accomplish this objective, data from 34 current and former psychiatric patients living in either a transitional or long-term group home or a co-operative apartment were collected on measures of resident control, staff management practices, network size and social support, and quality of life. The second objective was to examine the impact of supportive housing programs on residents’ adaptation to community living. To meet this objective, a retrospective pre-test post-test design was used to compare changes in residents’ rates of rehospitalization, educational and/or vocational involvement, and staff’s perceptions of residents’ level of independent functioning since living in residence. Results indicated that shared control over decision-making within the home and a democratic management style were significantly related to various aspects of residents’ perceived quality of life. Furthermore, a significant improvement in residents’ level of adaptive functioning and instrumental role involvement, as well as a significant decrease in the frequency and duration of hospitalizations, were observed. Additional factors which were significant in terms of residents’ descriptions of their quality of life include the need for acceptance, competence, privacy, friendship and support, and employment or meaningful activity. The implications of this study highlight both the importance and validity of self-report data with this segment of the population. Recommendations for the programs, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season