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This paper outlines one component of a major research study, which will forn the basis for a new service for relatives of schizophrenia sufferers within a special hospital The aim of this initial component has been twofold firstly to identify and understand the needs of relatives in terms of their present knowledge and understanding of schizophrenia, and secondly to establish what stress the relatives are presently experiencing in maintaining contact with patients and whether this stress may have an impact on the management of schizophrenia at the hospital A purposive sample of 17 relatives were interviewed using two semi-structured interview protocols All interviews were audio-taped and later transcribed for analysis The data have provided an illuminating insight into the thoughts and feelings of relatives and indicate many ways in which a service for relatives could be tailored It is apparent that many relatives are currently not being supported, involved or allowed to contribute to the care of their family member at Ashworth Hospital This present situation is stressful for relatives and is likely to have a detrimental effect on the course of schizophrenia in patients at Ashworth Hospital