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Early Interv Psychiatry. 2012 Aug;6(3):283-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7893.2011.00317.x. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

A randomized trial of family focused treatment for adolescents and young adults at risk for psychosis: study rationale, design and methods.

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  • 1University of California at San Francisco, 94143, USA.



This article outlines the rationale for a family-focused psychoeducational intervention for individuals at risk for psychosis and explains the design of a randomized multisite trial to test its efficacy.


Adolescents and young adults that meet criteria for a psychosis risk syndrome at eight participating North American Prodromal Longitudinal Study sites are randomly assigned to a 6-month, 18-session family-focused treatment for prodromal youth or a 3-session psychoeducational enhanced care control intervention and followed over 1 year.


The results will determine whether the use of a family intervention is able to significantly improve functional outcomes, decrease the severity of positive symptoms and possibly prevent the onset of full psychosis, compared with enhanced care alone. Levels of familial criticism at baseline are hypothesized to moderate responses to family intervention. Improvements in knowledge about symptoms, family communication and problem solving will be tested as mediators in the pathways between treatment assignment and clinical or psychosocial outcomes in high-risk youth.


The ongoing trial evaluates whether a non-invasive psychosocial approach can significantly enhance functional outcomes and prevent the ultra high risk patients from developing psychosis. The results will provide an important stepping stone in the movement of the field from refining early detection strategies to developing efficacious preventative treatments.

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