Various problems are associated with schizophrenia which may theoretically lead to impaired educability about treatment.
The Understanding of Medication Questionnaire, designed to measure knowledge about treatment in schizophrenia, is described and presented. An educational programme based on a specially designed information booklet was developed. Sixty-four patients with DSM–III–R diagnosis schizophrenia were randomly allocated to groups receiving none (control), one session or three sessions of education.
Pre-intervention low levels of knowledge about illness and treatment increased significantly immediately after a standard education session. Three education sessions led to significantly greater knowledge gain than one session. There was no significant change in the control group. Only the PANSS negative syndrome score independently and consistently explained a significant proportion of the education effect. The influence on educability of attitudes to education, impaired insight, cognitive impairment and other variables were considered. Three sessions of education led to significantly increased insight, but no change in compliance.
Techniques appropriate for educating schizophrenic patients were discussed, and the value of involving patients in education emphasised. A series of patient education sessions is needed to consolidate learning, rather than a single informing process. The strong association between impaired learning and more severe negative schizophrenic syndrome emphasises the need for responsible prescribing of antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia.