Cognitive behavioural family intervention for people diagnosed with severe mental illness and their families: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Chak Fai Ma, Sherry Kit Wa Chan, Wai Tong Chien, Daniel Bressington, Esther Yee Wai Mui, Edwin Ho Ming Lee, Eric Yu Hai Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


What is known on the subject?: Cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) and family intervention (FI) for psychosis are effective evidence-based interventions, but they are practically difficult to be implemented in many clinical settings. The CBTp and FI approaches have been integrated to form cognitive behavioural family intervention (CBFI). This brief intervention may be more feasible to implement in clinical practice. A few individual studies reported the effectiveness of CBFI, but no systematic review and meta-analysis have been conducted. What the paper adds to existing knowledge: CBFI was effective for reducing overall positive and negative symptoms immediately following the intervention. Compared to CBTp, the intervention seems to be more effective to reduce delusions. What are the implications for practice?: The results of this review suggest that the brief CBFI is an effective family-inclusive intervention that could be integrated into clinical practice. Mental health nurses with adequate training and support may implement and develop CBFI to improve the recovery of people diagnosed with SMI and support their families. Abstract Introduction Cognitive behavioural family intervention (CBFI) may be an effective brief psychosocial intervention for people diagnosed with severe mental illness (SMI) and their families. No systematic review has summarized the effectiveness of CBFI. Aim This review aimed to systematically examine the trial evidence of the effectiveness of CBFI versus treatment as usual (TAU) on improving the outcomes of people diagnosed with SMI and their families. Method Eligible randomized controlled trials were identified from nine databases. Three investigators independently took part in selection of articles, data extraction and risk assessment. Pooled treatment effects were computed using random-effects models. Results Four studies consisting of 524 participants were included. The risk of bias was low–unclear in most areas. The pooled CBFI effect on four service user outcomes including overall positive symptoms, delusions, overall negative symptoms and general psychopathology was significantly improved at post-treatment, compared with TAU, whereas effects on hallucinations and insight were equivocal. Discussion The findings reveal that CBFI is superior to TAU in treating positive and negative symptoms immediately following the intervention. Implications for Practice Mental health nurses may practise CBFI to enrich the psychiatric nursing service and promote nurse-led intervention. However, there is currently no substantial evidence that the intervention is effective over the longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • caregiver
  • CBT
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • family therapy
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health

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