Recent developments in family psychoeducation as an evidence-based practice

J Marital Fam Ther. 2012 Jan;38(1):101-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00256.x. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Among potential resources for people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) and their families, professionally delivered family psychoeducation (FPE) is designed to engage, inform, and educate family members, so that they can assist the person with SMI in managing their illness. In this article, we review research regarding FPE outcomes and implementation since 2001, updating the previous review in this journal (McFarlane, Dixon, Lukens, & Lucksted, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 2003; 29, 223). Research on a range of FPE variations continues to return mostly positive effects for adults with schizophrenia and increasingly, bipolar disorder. More recent studies include functional outcomes as well as the more common relapse and hospitalization. FPE research involving adults with other diagnoses is increasing, as is FPE research outside the United States In both cases, uneven methodologies and multiple FPE variations make drawing conclusions difficult, although the core utility of access to information, skill building, problem solving, and social support often shines though. Since the previous review, several FPE programs for parents of children or youth with mood disorders have also been developed, with limited research showing more positive than null results. Similarly, we review the developing inquiry into early intervention and FPE, short-form FPE, and cost studies involving FPE. The second half of the article updates the paradox of FPE's evidence base versus its persistently low use, via recent implementation efforts. Multiple challenges and facilitating factors across healthcare systems and financing, individual programs and providers, family members, and consumers shape this issue, and we conclude with discussion of the need for empirical evaluation of implementation strategies and models.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Health
  • Family Relations*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mentally Ill Persons*
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education*
  • Peer Group
  • Schizophrenia / therapy
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Social Support