People with schizophrenia will benefit from family therapy but the number of patients receiving it less than 7%. Therefore scientists at the University of Miami have developed a novel culturally-informed treatment for people with schizophrenia that focuses on their caregivers.
Researchers used the cultural believes, values and behaviors of caregivers to help them cope with the stress of caring for a loved one with schizophrenia.
‘The new treatment markedly reduces caregiver burden, shame and guilt, implying an improvement in the quality of life for caregivers and patients alike.
"We wanted to develop a treatment intervention that taps into cultural beliefs and values that we hypothesized would make the treatment more engaging and relatable to many ethnic minorities that do not necessarily embrace the current mental health care system. "We hoped to develop a treatment that was not only aimed at benefiting patients, but explicitly focused on reducing caregiver distress as well," said Amy Weisman de Mamani, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the study. The findings published in the journal Psychotherapy
of the American Psychological Association.
Researchers examined whether adding culturally based segments to an already established family focused treatment for schizophrenia would reduce patients' psychiatric symptoms and caregiver distress beyond what a psychoeducation-only family intervention would.
For the study, participants took the cuturally-informed treatment (CIT-S) for a period of 15 weeks.They incorporated modules on spirituality, or religion and family collectivism to already established psychoeducational and communication modules. Sixty percent of the participants were Hispanic, 28 percent Caucasian, eight percent African American and nearly four percent identified as "Other."
The results show that CIT-S and the psychoeducation-only family intervention were equally and highly effective in reducing shame, although CIT-S markedly outperformed family psychoeducation in reducing caregivers' burden and guilt.
In the spirituality module, the study aimed at helping families' access beliefs and practices that could help cope with the illness, such as prayer, meditation, volunteerism, and attending religious services. Family members that did not subscribe to any particular religious practice or belief participated in parallel exercises that didn't specifically reference "God" or "religion."
In the family collectivism module, the study assessed and encouraged the ability of family members to develop the perspective that they are part of a unified team working towards common goals.. The researchers believe that the treatment is not specific to particular group, but rather may be helpful to all ethnic, racial and cultural groups.
The study, titled "The effect of a culturally-informed therapy on self-conscious emotions and burden in caregivers of patients with schizophrenia: A randomized clinical trial," is a follow-up of a December 2014 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.In future research, the researchers would like to test whether CIT-S can outperform a matched length control treatment that includes all of the components of CIT-S.