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Family Conundrums with Psychiatric Medication: An Inquiry into Experiences, Beliefs, and Desires

Abstract

Research with families of people with serious mental illness consistently shows that the concerns and conundrums about their loved one’s medication are among those most centrally voiced. The inquiry here relied on an anonymous cross-sectional survey of attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of family members (N = 339) specifically related to psychiatric medication use. A latent profile analysis yielded two categories of respondents: those “skeptical of the medical model,” which represented 43% of the survey respondents, and those “supportive of the medical model,” which represented 57% of the survey respondents. Data from open-ended questions suggests families crave inclusion and wish providers would more radically embrace both collaboration and balance in their approach to medication maintenance. The hope of this research is to help mental health providers be more responsive and compassionate in their work with families of people with serious mental illness, especially as it relates to psychiatric medication.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to graciously thank doctoral students Christine M. Orndahl and Keighly Bradbrook for their consultation on the data analysis. Their work was supported by the VCU Biostatistics Laboratory, which is partially supported by award No. UL1TR002649 from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Science. We also thank the family members who gave voice to their experiences in hopes of making a difference.

Funding

This was an unfunded study. Doctoral students who provided statistical consultation were supported by a grant within their own department and were not connected in any other way to the study. The second author, at the time of data collection, was the executive director of the organization that distributed the link to the survey. All research procedures were approved by the authors’ University IRB (#HM20015898). All respondents consented to participate. No other financial or non-financial conflicts of interests are reported. Both authors certify they meet the definition of author and certify responsibility for the conduct of the study and the preparation of the manuscript.

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Both authors contributed to the study conception and design. Materials preparation and data collection were performed predominately by KJB, and data analysis and interpretation was conducted by both authors. The first draft of the manuscript was written by KJB. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kia J. Bentley.

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Bentley, K.J., Thissen, R. Family Conundrums with Psychiatric Medication: An Inquiry into Experiences, Beliefs, and Desires. Community Ment Health J 58, 67–77 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-021-00792-y

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Keywords

  • Families of people with mental illness
  • Psychiatric medication
  • Serious mental illness
  • Attitudes towards medication
  • Lived experience of families