Family intervention for schizophrenia
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BACKGROUND: It has been showed that people with schizophrenia from families that express high levels of criticism, hostility, or over involvement, have more frequent relapses than people with similar problems from families that tend to be less expressive of their emotions. Psychosocial interventions designed to reduce these levels of expressed emotions within families now exist for mental health workers. These interventions are proposed as adjuncts rather than alternatives to drug treatments, and their main purpose is to decrease the stress within the family and also the rate of relapse. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the effects of family psychosocial interventions in community settings for the care of those with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like conditions compared to standard care. SEARCH STRATEGY: Electronic searches of the Cochrane Library (Issue 2, 1998), the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Register (June 1998), EMBASE (1981-1995) and MEDLINE (1966-1995) were undertaken and supplemented with reference searching of the identified literature. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised or quasi-randomised studies were selected if they focused on families of people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and compared community-orientated family-based psychosocial intervention of more than five sessions to standard care. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were reliably extracted, and, where appropriate and possible, summated. Peto odds ratios (OR), their 95% confidence intervals (CI) and number needed to treat (NNT) were estimated. The reviewers assume that people who died or dropped out had no improvement and tested the sensitivity of the final results to this assumption. MAIN RESULTS: Family intervention may decrease the frequency of relapse (one year OR 0.57 CI 0.4-0.8, NNT 6.5 CI 4-14). The trend over time of this main finding is towards the null and some small but negative studies may not have been identified by the search. Family intervention may decrease hospitalisation and encourage compliance with medication but data are few and equivocal. Family intervention does not obviously effect the tendency of individuals/families to drop out of care. It may improve general social impairment and the levels of expressed emotion within the family. This review provides no data to suggest that family intervention either prevents or promotes suicide. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians, researchers, policy makers and recipients of care cannot be confident of the effects of family intervention from the findings of this review. Further data from already completed trials could greatly inform practice and more trials are justified as long as their participants, interventions and outcomes are generalisable to routine care.
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