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Siblings of individuals with first-episode psychosis: understanding their experiences and needs.

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Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Thames Valley University, England, UK.


The growth of early intervention in psychosis services (EIPS) has prompted needed research to provide a robust evidence base to underpin practice. The typical service model embraces key psychosocial interventions, including family interventions. A literature review revealed a number of relevant studies that recognized the role of siblings in families affected by severe mental illness or mental impairment, but little was found about the impact of first-episode psychosis on siblings. To address this apparent oversight, we conducted a study to gain an understanding of sibling experiences. Ten siblings (ages 16 to 30) with a brother or sister diagnosed with first-episode psychosis took part in individual semi-structured interviews. The key findings were grouped in regard to emotional impact, relationships in the family, and siblings' roles and coping patterns. The study also revealed that families are able to identify positive gains out of a fundamentally negative experience.

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