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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(4):CD002831.

Psychoeducation for schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Porvoo Hospital, Sairaalantie 2, Porvoo, Finland, 06200.

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Schizophrenia can be a severe and chronic illness characterised by lack of insight and poor compliance with treatment. Psychoeducational approaches have been developed to increase patients' awareness of their illness and its treatment.


To assess the effects of psychoeducational interventions compared to standard levels of knowledge provision.


Electronic searches of CINAHL (1982-1999), The Cochrane Library CENTRAL (Issue 1, 1999), The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Register (January 1999), EMbase (1980-1999), MEDLINE (1966-1999), PsycLit (1974-1999), and Sociofile (1974-1999) were undertaken. These were supplemented with reference searching and personal contact with authors of all included studies.


All relevant randomised controlled trials focusing on psychoeducation for schizophrenia or related serious mental illnesses, involving individuals or groups. Quasi-randomised trials were excluded.


Data were extracted independently by at least two reviewers from included papers. Authors of trials were contacted for additional and missing data. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of homogeneous dichotomous data were calculated. A random effects model was used for heterogeneous dichotomous data. Where possible the numbers needed to treat (NNT) were also calculated. Weighted or standardised means were calculated for continuous data.


Ten studies are included in this review. All studies of group education included family members. Compliance with medication was significantly improved in a single study using brief group intervention (at one year) but other studies produced equivocal or skewed data. Any kind of psychoeducational intervention significantly decreased relapse or readmission rates at nine to 18 months follow-up compared with standard care (RR 0.8 CI 0.7-0.9 NNT 9 CI 6-22). Several of the secondary outcomes (knowledge gains, mental state, global level of functioning, status of high expressed emotion family members) were measured using scales that are difficult to interpret. Generally, however, findings were consistent with the possibility that psychoeducation has a positive effect on a persons' well being. No impact was found on insight, medication related attitudes or on overall satisfaction with services of patients or relatives but these findings rested on very few studies. Health economic outcome was only measured in one study and data were skewed. It was not possible to analyse whether different duration or formats of psychoeducation influenced effectiveness.


Evidence from trials suggests that psychoeducational approaches are useful as a part of the treatment programme for people with schizophrenia and related illness. That the interventions are brief and inexpensive should make them attractive to managers and policy makers. More well-designed, conducted and reported randomised studies investigating the efficacy of psychoeducation are needed.

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