Effectiveness of psychoeducational intervention for rural Chinese families experiencing schizophrenia
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Background: The aim of this study was to explore the characteristics and efficacy of psychoeducational family intervention for persons with schizophrenia in rural China. Methods: A cluster randomised controlled trial of psychoeducational family intervention for families experiencing schizophrenia (three groups, 326 cases) was conducted in Xinjin County, Chengdu. Treatment groups consisted of family intervention and medication, medication alone, and a control. Results: The results showed a gain in knowledge, a change in the relatives' caring attitudes towards the patients, and an increase in treatment compliance in the psychoeducational family intervention group (p < 0.05, 0.001). Most importantly, the relapse rate over 9 months in this group (16.3 %) was half that of the drug-only group (37.8 %), and just over one-quarter of that of the control group (61.5 %) (p < 0.05). Antipsychotic drug treatment and families' attitudes towards patients after the 9-month follow-up were significantly associated with clinical outcome (p < 0.05). Conclusions: In rural China, family intervention should focus on improving the relatives' recognition of illness, the caring attitude towards the patients, treatment compliance, relapse prevention, and the training of the patients' social functioning. This trial, one of the largest in the literature, has shown that psychoeducational family intervention is effective and suitable for psychiatric rehabilitation in Chinese rural communities.
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