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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2003 Mar;24(2):175-98.

Families living with severe mental illness: a literature review.

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  • School of Nursing, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, 3601 4th Street, Lubbock, TX 79430-6264, USA. jana.saunders@ttmc.ttuhsc.edu


Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, which is stressful not only for patients, but also for family members. Numerous studies have demonstrated that family caregivers of persons with a severe mental illness suffer from significant stresses, experience moderately high levels of burden, and often receive inadequate assistance from mental health professionals. Effective family functioning in families with schizophrenia may be influenced by a variety of psychosocial factors. The purpose of this article was to present a review of the social science literature related to families living with schizophrenia that has been published during the last three decades. There is general agreement in the literature that a multitude of variables affect families with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Therefore, this literature review examined the most frequently investigated variables (coping, psychological distress and caregiver burden, social support, caregiver resiliency and depression, and client behavioral problems) as they are related to families and schizophrenia.

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