Schizophrenia or "split
personality disorder" as some may call it, is a chronic and debilitating mental
illness which is characterized by disintegration in the process of thinking and
emotional responsiveness. Corresponding to the psychotic behavior of such
patients, the person's thinking is completely out of touch with reality.
causes of schizophrenia are still unknown and hence the treatment focuses
mainly on eliminating symptoms of the disease and is based on antipsychotic medications and psychosocial
The treatment does work wonderfully in most instances;
however relapse is of a major concern among caregivers.
According to a new Cochrane
systematic review, change in the behavior
of family members may prove to be effective
in treating schizophrenic
The researchers reviewed the
subject and noticed that patients whose families received the interventions
were less likely of a relapse. It has
been observed that there is greater probability of relapse in people who have
schizophrenia when their families exhibit high levels of hostility, criticism,
and over indulgence towards them
. New psychosocial interventions aim to
reduce such potentially negative emotions, although their effectiveness has yet
to be proved.
Data collected from 53 trials involving 4,708 patients has been
reviewed by researchers.
The above said interventions lasted from six weeks
to three years and it involved a variety of psychosocial techniques that aimed
at reducing stress and levels of negative emotions. It also proposed at helping
family members to solve patient's problems.
During the trial, patients in
control groups were given standard care and their usual drug treatments.
Patients were assessed using a wide variety of different scales for general and
mental health, behavior, social functioning, and quality of life.
Out of the 53 such trials, results from 32 depicted that for every
seven patients whose relatives were given family interventions, at least one
got benefited as compared to the control groups.
There was also a
significant drop in the hospital admissions over the year. Family intervention
also improved patients' social functioning and encouraged them to stick to drug
Lead researcher on one of such
studies Dr. Fiona Pharoah of Oxford and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS
Foundation Trust, UK, stated that "Prevention of relapse is a cornerstone of
psychiatric care. If high quality family services are available, mental health
professionals and managers may feel that family interventions are a worthwhile
investment of time and effort for schizophrenic patients."
of the study Dr. John Rathbone of the Health Economics and Decision Science
department at the University of Sheffield pointed out that "We still need a
better designed large study to settle arguments about this widely used
therapy." He further added, "Some of the important data within the studies that
were reviewed were poorly reported and patients might have reason to feel let
down by the research community in these cases."