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Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2007 Jul-Aug;15(4):161-8.

Psychotic-spectrum illness and family-based treatments: a case-based illustration of the underuse of family interventions.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Psychotic-spectrum illnesses (PSIs) are a significant cause of relational dysfunction and vocational disability, and result in substantial economic costs to society. The impact of family process, particularly "expressed emotion," on influencing the relapse rate of PSIs is now well documented. Over the last two decades, evidence has emerged supporting family-based treatments that decrease family stress (e.g., psychoeducation, training in problem solving, and improved communication), reduce the relapse rate, and improve medication adherence and social functioning among patients with PSIs. Family interventions are now included in the Expert Consensus Guidelines and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research/National Institute of Mental Health (AHCPR/NIMH) Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) recommendations for the treatment of schizophrenia. Nevertheless, family-based treatments are underused in the care of PSI patients. Building upon a case example, this article explores the barriers to implementing family interventions in the acute and outpatient treatment of these patients. The case discussion highlights the convergence of problems in the mental health care system with clinicians' typical capacities and practices, difficulties intrinsic to the nature of PSI itself, and the burden and stigmatization of families of the severely mentally ill. Taken together, these factors undercut the implementation of evidence-based family interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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