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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2014 Jun;60(4):315-20. doi: 10.1177/0020764013488569. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

Towards a treatment model for family therapy for schizophrenia in an urban African setting: Results from a qualitative study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, Department of Psychology Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.



Family interventional programmes are effective adjuncts to pharmacotherapy in patients with schizophrenia. Modification in content of such programmes in response to local challenges is considered important, but has not been fully explored in Africa.


To assess the feasibility and acceptability of an interventional family study for people with schizophrenia and their families in a socially deprived urban community in South Africa and to explore the contextual factors that could influence implementation of the intervention.


A psychiatric nurse facilitated semi-structured interviews with four multi-family groups, each comprising adult outpatients with schizophrenia and their caregivers. Six sessions were held per group. Thematic analysis was applied.


Three themes emerged: stigma and abuse; substance abuse comorbidity and caregiver burden of multiple stressors. Many of these stressors relate to the challenges of an impoverished urban environment.


Multi-family groups with a psycho-educational and behaviour modification frame are acceptable. Negative symptoms are seen as protective in areas of community violence. Modification of traditional models of family therapy to include factors related to poverty, violence, caregiver burden, stigma and limited health care access should be considered in this setting.

© The Author(s) 2013.


Africa; Family therapy; schizophrenia; urban

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