Objectives: This study tested the effectiveness of a mutual support multiple-family-group intervention for schizophrenia in terms of improvements in patients' psychosocial functioning, use of mental health services, and rehospitalization compared with a psychoeducation intervention and standard care. Methods: A controlled trial was conducted in a sample of 96 Chinese families who were caring for a relative with schizophrenia in Hong Kong. The families were randomly assigned to one of three groups: mutual support (N=32), psychoeducation (N=33), and standard care (N=31). The interventions were delivered at two psychiatric outpatient clinics over a six-month period. The mutual support and psychoeducation interventions consisted of 12 group sessions every two weeks, each lasting about two hours. The mutual support group was a peer-led group designed to provide information, emotional support, and coping skills for caregiving in stages. The psychoeducation group was a professional-led group designed to educate families about the biological basis of schizophrenia and treatment and to improve illness management and coping skills. The standard care group and the other two groups received routine psychiatric outpatient care during the intervention. Data analyses of multiple outcomes over one-year follow-up were conducted on an intention-to-treat basis. Results: Multivariate analyses of variance showed that the mutual support intervention was associated with consistently greater improvements in patients' functioning and rehospitalization and stable use of mental health services over the follow-up period compared with the other two interventions. Conclusions: The study provides evidence that mutual support groups can be an effective family intervention for Chinese persons with mental illness in terms of improving patients' functioning and hospitalization without increasing their use of mental health services.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health