Background: It is unclear if the impact of psychoeducational family intervention for patients with schizophrenia can be sustained over 10 years. In this study, we explored the 14-year effect of psychoeducational family intervention for patients with schizophrenia in a Chinese rural area.
Method: The data from a cluster randomized control trial (CRCT) study of psychoeducational family intervention in a 14-year follow-up was analyzed. All patients with schizophrenia (n = 326) who participated in the CRCT drawn from six townships in Xinjin County of Chengdu in 1994, of whom 238 (73.0%) who were still alive, and their informants were followed up in 2008. The Patients Follow-up Scale, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Global Assessment of Functioning were used in the follow-up study.
Results: There were no significant differences of marital status, mean scores of PANSS positive symptoms, negative symptoms, general mental health, and total scores among the psychoeducational family intervention, medication, and control groups in 2008. The psychoeducational family intervention group had a significantly higher rate of antipsychotic medication and a higher level of work ability than other two groups. The control group had a significantly higher rate of never-treated (26.0%) than psychoeducational family intervention group (6.5%).
Conclusion: Psychoeducational family intervention might be still effective in the 14-year follow-up, especially in patients' treatment adherence/compliance and social functioning. Psychoeducational family intervention might be more effective in places where family members frequently participated in patients' care and had a lower level of knowledge on mental illness. Family intervention should be considered when making mental health policy and planning mental health services.
Keywords: China; effectiveness; long-term follow-up; psychoeducational family intervention; schizophrenia.