Objective: Data from the Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team project were examined to determine the extent to which families of adults with schizophrenia receive services and whether training staff in the provision of family services increases service availability.
Methods: For patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, paid claims for family therapy were identified in 1991 in a nationally representative sample of Medicare data and one state's Medicaid data. In a field study in two states, 530 patients were asked about services received by their families. A quasiexperimental dissemination of a family intervention was done at nine agencies; staff at four agencies received a standard didactic presentation, and staff at five received that standard presentation paired with intensive training.
Results: In the representative national Medicare sample of 15,425 persons with schizophrenia, .7 percent (N=108) had an outpatient claim for family therapy. This figure was 7.1 percent in the Medicaid sample of 5,393 persons with schizophrenia in one state. Of the 530 patients in the field study who reported having contact with their families, 159 (30 percent) reported that their families had received information, advice, or support about their illness, and 40 (8 percent) responded that their families had attended an educational or support program. At the four agencies where staff received only didactic training, no changes in family services were found after one year. Three of the five agencies where staff participated in intensive training enhanced their family services.
Conclusions: A minority of families of persons with schizophrenia receive information about the illness from providers. Implementation of model family interventions is possible with considerable technical assistance. A gap exists between best practices and standard practices for families of persons with schizophrenia.