Background: Family interventions are effective in reducing relapse in patients with schizophrenia, but there is little work demonstrating the effectiveness of the interventions in routine service settings.
Aims: To test the effectiveness of a needs-based family intervention service for patients recruited as out-patients and their carers, including those of low expressed emotion status.
Method: Carers of out-patient schizophrenia sufferers selected only on illness history factors were randomly allocated to receive either family support alone or in combination with systematic psychosocial interventions based on an assessment of need. Delivery of family interventions attempted to involve the clinical team.
Results: Relapse outcomes were superior for family-treated patients at six-month follow-up, although most of the clinical and symptom patient variables assessed remained stable, as did measures of carer burden.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated the effectiveness of family interventions in routine service settings. Problems with staff, patient and carer engagement and participation were identified.