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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985 Sep;42(9):887-96.

Family management in the prevention of morbidity of schizophrenia. Clinical outcome of a two-year longitudinal study.


Environmental stress may contribute to the clinical morbidity of established cases of schizophrenia treated with optimal neuroleptic drugs. A family-based approach that aimed to enhance the problem-solving capacity of the index patient and his family caregivers was compared with a patient-oriented approach of similar intensity over a two-year period. Thirty-six patients who returned to stressful parental households after florid episodes of schizophrenia (CATEGO and DSM-III) were stabilized with optimal neuroleptics before being randomly assigned to family or individual therapy in a comprehensive community management program. After nine months, family-managed patients had fewer exacerbations of schizophrenia, lower ratings of schizophrenic psychopathology, fewer hospital admissions, and a trend toward lower deficit symptoms and reduced neuroleptic dosage. This reduced clinical morbidity was sustained throughout the second year of less intensive follow-up. The relative efficacy of the family approach in this clinical management study did not appear to be due to prognostic factors, rater bias, stressful life events, or the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy. Definitive tests of these findings with respect to efficacy require further well-designed studies.

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