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A prospective quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the effect of training CPNs to undertake psychosocial intervention with families caring for a relative with schizophrenia.
Patients meeting predetermined criteria were allocated to either an initial waiting-list control group or a delayed intervention group. The CPNs were trained to offer family interventions to a total target group of 48. Treatment was eventually accepted by 85%, of whom 81 % (n = 34) were followed-up for 12 months. Families received a weekly mean session of 47 minutes (compared with 33 minutes in the controls). The main outcome measures are frequency and severity of symptoms (KGV), social functioning (SFS) and days in hospital. Carers' minor psychiatric morbidity (GHQ) and knowledge (KASI) are also reported.
In the patient group both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia improved significantly (P ≤ 0.001 and P ≤ 0.01 respectively) to 12-month follow-up, as did a global measure of social functioning (P ≤ 0.001). Tentative evidence was also collected that family intervention reduced in-patient episodes. Benefits for relatives included a decrease in minor psychiatric morbidity (P ≤ 0.05) and an increase in knowledge about neuroleptic drugs (P ≤ 0.001).
The study offers some evidence that CPNs can be taught to improve the outcome for families who care for a relative with schizophrenia.
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