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Eur Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;22(5):323-7. Epub 2007 Apr 16.

Caregiver psychoeducation for schizophrenia: is gender important?

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DETECT Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, Research, 1 Marine Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland.



Females care for individuals with chronic illness more commonly than males and have different attitudes to illness. Additionally, they experience greater burden and reduced quality of life, when compared to their male counterparts. Since knowledge has been shown to be related to burden, we sought to determine whether there were gender differences in knowledge acquisition during a six-week caregiver psychoeducation programme (CPP).


Caregivers of people with schizophrenia completed a 23-item adapted version of the self-report Family Questionnaire (FQ) before and after the six-week CPP. Using a Generalized Linear Mixed Model, we studied the differences in proportions of correct answers before and after the programme by gender.


Over a 46-month study period, 115 caregivers (58% female) participated in the programme. There was an overall improvement in knowledge with an effect size of 1.12. The improvement was statistically significant (P<0.001) within each of six specific areas of knowledge. However, female caregivers gained more knowledge overall and specifically regarding signs and symptoms, recovery and especially caregiver support. Knowledge gains regarding medication were roughly equal, while male caregivers gained more knowledge about risk factors.


Our findings indicate that there are gender differences in the amount and type of knowledge gained during a CPP, with female caregivers showing greater knowledge acquisition than their male counterparts in most areas. Interventions designed to assist caregivers may be improved by targeting areas of knowledge specific to each gender. Such an approach might further reduce burden and improve the outcome for their relatives affected by schizophrenia.

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