Objective: This study explored the effectiveness of a psychoeducational family intervention for schizophrenia on patients' personal and social functioning as well as on relatives' burden and perceived support.Methods: Thirty-four mental health professionals from 17 public mental health centers in Italy selected 71 families of consumers with schizophrenia. Forty-two families were randomly assigned to a group that received the intervention for six months, and 29 families were assigned to a waiting list for six months. At baseline and six months later, validated tools were used to assess patients' clinical status, personal and social functioning, and social network as well as relatives' burden, social resources, and perception of professional support.Results: In the intervention group the number of patients with poor or very poor global personal and social functioning decreased significantly, from 17 (47 percent) at baseline to nine (25 percent) at follow-up. A significant improvement was found for the intervention group in patients' social relationships, interests in obtaining a job, maintenance of social interests, and management of social conflicts. Twenty-seven patients (74 percent) reported that their social relationships had improved during the six-month period. For both the intervention and control groups, family burden significantly improved. Relatives' social contacts and perception of professional support significantly increased only in the intervention group.Conclusions: The results suggest that a psychoeducational family intervention may have a significant impact on functional outcomes of schizophrenia when provided to patients and caregivers in real-world settings.
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