Effectiveness of a mutual support group for families of patients with schizophrenia

Wai Tong Chien, Sally Chan, Jean Morrissey, David Thompson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. This paper reports a study to examine the effectiveness of a 12-session mutual support group for Chinese families caring for a relative with schizophrenia compared with a psycho-educational group and routine family support services in Hong Kong. Background. Schizophrenia is a disruptive and distressing illness for patients and their families. With the current trend of community care for mental illness, there is evidence that family intervention reduces patient relapse and re-hospitalization, satisfies the health needs of families and enhances their coping capabilities. Methods. A randomized controlled trial was conducted from May 2002 to June 2003 with 96 Chinese families of a relative with schizophrenia selected from two psychiatric outpatient clinics in Hong Kong. Families were randomly assigned to receive mutual support (n = 32), psycho-education (n = 33) or standard care only (n = 31). The interventions were delivered at outpatient clinics over a 6-month period. Pre- and post- (1 week and 6 months) testing took place and families' functioning, mental health service utilization, patients' level of functioning and duration of re-hospitalization were measured. Results. At both post-test periods, family caregivers and patients in the mutual support group reported statistically significant improvements on family and patients' level of functioning, when compared with their counterparts in the psychoeducation and standard care groups. Conclusions. The findings support the use of mutual support groups as an effective modality of family intervention in a Chinese population caring for a family member with schizophrenia to improve both family and patient functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-608
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical effectiveness
  • Family group intervention
  • Mutual support
  • Nursing
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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