Family Therapy May Cut Relapse Rates in Schizophrenia

Family interventions that curb negative emotions might help schizophrenic patients avoid relapse, primarily by promoting medication compliance, according to a new Cochrane systematic review.

Compared to standard care with medications, therapy that reduced negative emotions against the schizophrenic member of the family reduced relapses by 45% and hospitalizations by 22%, while increasing medication compliance by 40%, according to lead author Dr. Fiona Pharoah and associates.

“I see this as further validation of the potential impact family psychoeducation can have, beyond what medication can do to reduce relapse and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Lisa Dixon, professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, who was not involved in this research.

“The real question now is why it isn’t used more widely,” she added.

Relapses are more frequent in schizophrenia when families are critical, hostile, or overly involved, the authors explain. The goals of family psychosocial interventions are to reduce levels of expressed emotion, stress and family burden while improving problem-solving skills.

Reported by Karla Gale
Reuters Health

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