Patient and relative education in community psychiatry: a randomized controlled trial regarding its effectiveness
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Background: Family psychoeducation has a well-documented effect on the short-term prognosis in schizophrenia. Less is known about the effectiveness of shorter programmes with the main focus on information for patients (patient education) or for patients and relatives (family education). Methods: A randomized study of the effectiveness of an eight-session psychoeducational programme for patients with schizophrenia and for their relatives was conducted in two community mental health centres, in Århus and Viborg (Denmark). Patient outcome measures were knowledge, relapse, compliance, insight and satisfaction, and relative outcome measures were knowledge and satisfaction. Postintervention outcome and follow-up evaluation 1 year after the start of the intervention are presented. Results: A statistically significant increase in knowledge of schizophrenia in both relatives and patients was demonstrated at postintervention and a non-significant trend at 1-year follow-up. Statistically significant changes in the Verona Service Satisfaction Scale Scores in the sub-dimension of satisfaction with Relatives involvement were demonstrated both for patients and relatives postintervention and for patients at 1-year follow-up. There was a tendency that time-to-relapse increased in the intervention group at postintervention and that the schizophrenia subscore of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale was reduced in the intervention group at 1-year follow-up. No differences were found between the groups regarding compliance, insight into psychosis, psychosocial function (General Assessment of Function) or in relatives' expressed emotion scores postintervention or at 1-year follow-up. Conclusion: A short patient and relative education programme seems to be able to influence knowledge and some aspects of satisfaction, but does not seem to be sufficient to influence important variables such as relapse, compliance, psychopathology, insight or psychosocial functioning.
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