The effect of family environment and psychiatric family history on psychosocial functioning in first-episode psychosis at baseline and after 2 years

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2021 Apr 12;49:54-68. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2021.03.015. Online ahead of print.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the contribution of family environment styles and psychiatric family history on functioning of patients presenting first-episode psychosis (FEP). Patients with FEP and healthy controls (HC) were assessed at baseline and after 2 years. The Functional Assessment Short Test (FAST) was used to assess functional outcome and the Family Environment Scale (FES) to evaluate family environment. Linear regressions evaluated the effect that family environment exerts on functioning at baseline and at 2-year follow-up, when FEP patients were diagnosed according to non-affective (NA-PSYCH) or affective psychoses (A-PSYCH). The influence of a positive parents' psychiatric history on functioning was evaluated through one-way between-groups analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models, after controlling for family environmental styles. At baseline, FEP patients presented moderate functioning impairment, significantly worse than HC (28.65±16.17 versus 3.25±7.92; p<0.001, g = 1.91). At 2-year follow-up, the functioning of NA-PSYCH patients was significantly worse than in A-PSYCH (19.92±14.83 versus 12.46±14.86; p = 0.020, g = 0.50). No specific family environment style was associated with functioning in FEP patients and HC. On the contrary, a positive psychiatric father's history influenced functioning of FEP patients. After 2 years, worse functioning in NA-PSYCH patients was associated with lower rates of active-recreational and achievement orientated family environment and with higher rates of moral-religious emphasis and control. In A-PSYCH, worse functioning was associated with higher rates of conflict in the family. Both family environment and psychiatric history influence psychosocial functioning, with important implications for early interventions, that should involve both patients and caregivers.

Keywords: Affective psychoses; Family environment; First-episode psychosis; Non-affective psychoses; Psychiatric family history; Psychosocial functioning.