Sir: Although much has been written about the behavioural aspects of people with schizophrenia living in the community (Leff & Trieman, 2000), little is known about their leisure activities. We recently asked patients and normal subjects in Nithsdale, South West Scotland, about their access to music (n=136 patients and 114 controls) and the National Lottery (n=62 patients and 57 controls).
More controls owned a cassette (96% v. 73%), record (60% v. 40%) or CD (85% v. 52%) player; patients owned fewer cassettes, records or CDs. More patients (16% v. 3%) never or very rarely listened to music and fewer listened to music every day (40% v. 55%). The range of music listened to by patients was narrower. Abba and Elvis were most often mentioned by the patients as their favourite group or artist, Daniel O'Donnell and Abba by the control subjects.
Seventy per cent of patients had played the National Lottery at some time compared with 87% of controls. Normal subjects had played more recently (70% v. 42%; in the past week); and patients played less often (52% v. 30% once a month or less) and spent less money on tickets (£ 1.50 v. £2.30 on average).
It is probably a matter of regret that our patients, with lots of leisure time, listen to less music, which can be both relaxing and stimulating. That they play the National Lottery less often is probably to be welcomed because the lottery is likely to make poor people in Britain even poorer (Mckee, 1995).
- © 2001 Royal College of Psychiatrists