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Keywords:

  • expressed emotion;
  • family psychoeducational program;
  • knowledge;
  • relapse;
  • schizophrenia

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES

Aims:  Family psychoeducational programs have been shown to be effective in terms of knowledge acquirement and relapse prevention, but few studies have looked at whether one mode of educational method is more effective than another. The aim of the present study was to compare several modes of educational approaches and to elucidate which mode of education is more effective.

Methods:  A total of 110 relatives of 95 patients with schizophrenia received three types of family psychoeducational programs between January 1995 and September 2003: a small group with two sessions (P1), a large group with nine sessions (P2), and a large group with five sessions (P3). In addition to the demographic data, acquired knowledge was measured using the modified Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview (KASI), family expressed emotion (EE), and relapse episodes.

Results:  Overall there were significant increases in many KASI subcategory scores after the three programs, in mothers in particular. The change in KASI scores indicated that the low EE group was able to be highly educated and that the relatives of non-relapsers were more effectively educated. As for the mode of the family psychoeducational program, the P1 and P2 groups surpassed the P3 in terms of knowledge acquired.

Conclusions:  Effects of family psychoeducation may depend not on the number of members or sessions but on the time spent on the program per member.

THE PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL APPROACH specifically targeting the relatives of schizophrenia patients originates from a family expressed emotion (EE) study in the 1970s.1 When the families in that EE study were divided into two groups, families with high EE and those with low EE, it was found that discharged patients returning to a high EE family had a 3–4-fold higher risk of relapse than patients who returned to a low EE family.1 Based on this family diagnosis, psychoeducation for family members began in the 1980s, and its effectiveness in terms of relapse prevention has been widely confirmed.2–4 Consequently, some EE studies were performed in Japan, and the relationship of EE to schizophrenia relapse5,6 social function,7 and symptoms of depression8 became apparent. In addition, interventions through family psychoeducation were performed, and its effectiveness in preventing relapse was verified.9

With respect to the mode of intervention for families, there are common basic components of psychoeducation: education about the illness and its course, training in coping and problem-solving skills, improved communication, and stress reduction.10 Specifically, psychoeducation plays an important role, providing family members with psychological and social support by offering information on the causes and symptoms as well as methods to deal with the patient in a way that is easily understood, while taking into account the mental state of the family.11

Many studies assessing the effectiveness of family intervention are available; for example, family work conducted by Leff et al. was successful in curtailing the rate of schizophrenia relapse. That family work consisted of psychiatric staff making home visits to families living with a patient.12 Another example of family intervention is behavioral family therapy including communication skills and problem-solving techniques using role playing.13 It was not only helpful in decreasing the relapse rate, but also contributed to reduce the maintenance drug use. The psychoeducation program, which consisted of lectures attended by 20–40 adult family members of schizophrenia patients in the community, also produced positive results such as a reduced relapse rate and hospitalization period, improved psychiatric symptoms, and the recovery of certain social functions.14

We tested three patterns of family psychoeducational programs and have reported on a small part of the findings.15 This paper comprehensively presents the findings based on data collected through our family psychoeducational programs. The purpose of the present study was to determine which mode of education was more effective and to investigate the influence of other variables such as characteristics of families, EE, and relapse on the acquirement of knowledge.

METHODS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES

Subjects

The subjects were (i) the relatives of persons with schizophrenia who were admitted to Tosa Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Kochi Medical School, and (ii) the relatives of patients treated in other hospitals, between January 1995 and September 2003. The diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia met the DSM-IV16 and/or ICD-10 criteria.17 Of 324 relatives who attended the program, data were available for 110: 61 mothers (55%), 27 fathers (25%), seven siblings (6%), six husbands (5%), five wives (5%), one grandmother, one aunt, one common-law wife and one sister-in-law. The average age of relatives was 55.5 years and the average years of education was 11.4 years. Consent to participate in the study was collected from the relatives. The remaining 214 relatives did not participate because of refusal of consent, extreme old age, and so on.

The number of patients was 84 in Tosa Hospital and 11 in other hospitals. The characteristics of the patients were obtained only from those treated in Tosa Hospital: n = 84 (50 men, 60%); average age 32.5 years, average years of education 11.2 years, average age at onset of 24.9 years, average duration of illness 7.7 years, and average number of previous hospitalizations, 3.9.

Programs of family psychoeducation

Small group with two sessions (P1)

Initially, we formed a small group of two to three families attending two sessions from January 1995 to March 1998 (P1). The number of participants differed each time, with mostly three to four persons. The staff consisted of two psychiatrists, one psychiatric social worker, and one clerk. The teaching materials were two videos produced by Zenkaren (National Alliance of Families with Mentally Ill) and our own pamphlet. On the first day we gave information on the causes, symptoms and course of the illness, and on the second day, details of the recovery process and relapse followed by questions and answers. Each session lasted approximately 2 h.15

Large group with nine sessions (P2)

The second type of family psychoeducational program was a large group attending nine sessions from April 1998 to December 2000 (P2). The number of participants largely varied from 10 to 20. The staff consisted of three psychiatrists, three psychiatric social workers and three clerks. Using our own textbook, we gave much more information than in P1 with a question-and-answer session of approximately 1 h. The topics of the nine sessions were epidemiology, general ideas about the disease, etiology, symptomatology, course, drug treatment, psychosocial treatment, long-term outcome, and community resources. After each lecture we held group therapy for approximately 1 h that aimed at problem solving. Each session lasted around 2 h.

Large group with five sessions (P3)

The third type was a large group attending five sessions from January 2001 to September 2003. Again, the number of participants largely varied from 10 to 20. The staff consisted of two psychiatrists, two social workers, and two clerks. Using our own video and text, (Understanding schizophrenia, available at Tosa Hospital), we gave more information than in P1, but less than in P2 with a question-and-answer time of approximately 1 h. The topics of the five sessions were symptomatology, etiology, drug treatment, psychosocial treatment, long-term outcome, and community resources. After each lecture we held supportive group therapy for approximately 1 h. Each session lasted approximately 2 h.

Some participants attended more than two programs. Because the effect of the program was primarily judged by the change in the score, we included all the participants in the aforementioned programs in the analysis.

Measures

Change of knowledge

In order to probe the extent of the subjects' knowledge about schizophrenia, we administered the modified Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview (KASI)18 before the first session and after the last session. KASI is an open-ended questionnaire consisting of 21 questions and covering the diagnosis, symptomatology, etiology, course of the condition and prognosis, medication, and wish of relatives for more information. Omitting questions unrelated to the aim of the present study, we selected 11 questions such as ‘Has anyone told you the name of the condition?’, or ‘What is the cause of the condition?’ The extent of knowledge of each category was scored with our own scale (Table 1). The interrater reliability of the score, ANOVA interclass correlation coefficient, was excellent: 0.97. The scoring was not always performed blindly to the program types.

Table 1.  Modified Knowledge about Schizophrenia Interview
Diagnosis
4: Knows the right disease name and recognizes the condition to be a psychiatric disorder.
3: Does not know the right disease name but recognizes the condition to be psychiatric disorder.
2: Admits the condition as a disorder, but does not recognize it as psychiatric.
1: Has never been told the diagnosis or cannot say the disease name.
Symptoms
4: Gives a sufficiently objective explanation of the symptoms.
3: Gives an objective explanation of the symptoms, but it is insufficient.
2: Gives a slightly more objective explanation of the symptoms.
1: Gives a subjective explanation of the symptoms or has a critical attitude towards them.
Etiology
4: Gives an explanation of the role of both vulnerability and stress.
3: Gives an explanation of the role of either vulnerability or stress.
2: Gives a skewed explanation such as a genetic fault or flawed child rearing.
1: Gives no explanation or a totally inappropriate explanation.
Course/outcome
4: Regards the course as fluctuating, still has some hope for the outcome
3: Regards the course as fluctuating, while the outcome as pessimistic or too optimistic.
2: Regards the course as always bad, while the outcome as promising.
1: Regards the course as always bad and the outcome as hopeless.
Treatment
4: Knows the importance of a) avoiding stressful situations, b) relatives not expressing too much worry about the patient, and c) taking medicine regularly, and gives adequate assistance in terms of compliance.
3: Knows the importance of a), b) and c), and it is usually left to the patient to take medicine with occasional assistance if necessary.
2: Knows the importance of either a), b), or c), and it is usually left to the patient to take medicine.
1: Never refers to the importance of the items above and does not comprehend the importance of taking medicine.
Family expressed emotion

Because we have long conducted studies on family EE and schizophrenia, we included some relatives who had been interviewed using the Camberwell Family Interview (CFI). Each relative was classified as high EE or low EE according to the conventional criteria.2

Relapse

Relapse can be defined in many ways. We adopted the definition as readmission to a psychiatric hospital within 1 year after the end of the sessions. We used a non-parametric test to compare the scores of KASI using SPSS 12.0J for Windows (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA).

RESULTS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES

Effects of educational programs on family members

There were significant increases of the scores in the KASI diagnosis, etiology, course/outcome and treatment for all participants, as shown in Table 2, but there was no difference in the area of symptomatology. Parents and mothers showed significant score improvements in the same categories as in the case of all relatives. However, such favorable changes were reported only in three categories in the case of fathers and in one category in the case of spouses. Such improvement was not found among children in any of the categories.

Table 2.  Effects of education according to family member (median (range)/mean ± SD)
 KASI diagnosis scoreKASI symptom scoreKASI etiology scoreKASI course/outcome scoreKASI treatment score
BaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationP
  1. KASI, Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview.

  2. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test was used to compare the score at baseline and after educational sessions.

  3. Significantly different items have an educational effect.

All (n = 110)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.6603 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0013 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.001
2.2 ± 1.02.6 ± 1.0 2.3 ± 0.92.3 ± 0.8 2.3 ± 0.92.7 ± 0.9 2.6 ± 1.03.1 ± 1.0 1.8 ± 0.82.3 ± 0.8 
Parent (n = 88)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.733 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0013 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.001
2.3 ± 1.02.7 ± 1.0 2.3 ± 1.02.2 ± 0.7 2.3 ± 1.02.7 ± 0.9 2.6 ± 1.03.1 ± 1.0 1.8 ± 0.82.4 ± 0.8 
Mother (n = 61)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.0032 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.5143 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0033 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0152 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.001
2.2 ± 0.92.6 ± 1.0 2.3 ± 0.92.2 ± 0.7 2.3 ± 1.02.7 ± 1.0 2.6 ± 1.03.0 ± 1.0 1.8 ± 0.82.5 ± 0.8 
Father (n = 27)2 (1–4)2.5 (1–4)0.1442 (1–4)2 (1–3)0.7122.5 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0223 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0011.5 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.013
2.6 ± 1.12.9 ± 1.0 2.8 ± 1.02.1 ± 0.7 2.3 ± 1.02.7 ± 0.7 2.4 ± 1.13.3 ± 0.8 1.7 ± 0.82.2 ± 0.8 
Spouse – overall (n = 11)2 (1–2)2 (2–4)0.0143 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.413 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.103 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.172 (1–3)2 (1–3)0.26
1.6 ± 0.5 2.5 ± 0.8 2.5 ± 0.82.6 ± 0.8 2.5 ± 0.82.8 ± 0.9 2.5 ± 1.23.3 ± 0.9 1.7 ± 0.82.0 ± 0.6 
Wife (n = 5)2 (1–2)2 (2–4)0.1023 (1–3)3 (2–3)0.5643 (1–3)3 (2–4)0.3173 (2–4)3 (1–4)0.7052 (1–3)2 (1–3)1.000
1.8 ± 0.42.6 ± 0.9 2.4 ± 0.92.6 ± 0.5 2.4 ± 0.92.8 ± 0.8 3.0 ± 1.02.8 ± 1.1 1.8 ± 0.81.8 ± 0.9 
Husband (n = 6)1.5 (1–2)2 (2–4)0.0593 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.5643 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.1572 (1–4)4 (3–4)0.7051.5 (1–3)2 (2–3)1.000
1.5 ± 0.52.3 ± 0.8 2.5 ± 0.82.7 ± 1.0 2.5 ± 0.82.8 ± 1.0 2.2 ± 1.33.7 ± 0.5 1.7 ± 0.92.1 ± 0.4 
Children (n = 7)2 (1–3)2 (2–4)0.143 (2–4)3 (2–4)0.463 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.783 (1–4)4 (2–4)0.262 (1–3)2 (1–4)0.10
1.9 ± 0.72.6 ± 1.0 2.9 ± 0.93.0 ± 0.8 2.6 ± 1.02.7 ± 1.0 2.7 ± 1.13.1 ± 0.9 1.9 ± 0.92.1 ± 0.7 

EE and effects of educational programs

Thirty-two relatives were interviewed using CFI and the number of relatives classified into high EE and low EE was equal, with 16 in each group (Table 3). Of the 16 relatives classified into high EE, seven were critical/hostile, 10 were emotionally overinvolved, and one had both characteristics. There were no differences in KASI score at the baseline between high and low EE relatives. In the low EE group, however, there were significant score increases in the KASI etiology, course/outcome, and treatment score. In the high EE group these favorable changes were found only in KASI treatment. These results indicate that low EE relatives were more effectively educated in our programs.

Table 3.  Effects of education according to EE status (n = 32) (median (range)/mean ± SD)
 KASI diagnosis scoreKASI symptom scoreKASI etiology scoreKASI course/outcome scoreKASI treatment score
BaselineAfter educationP valueBaselineAfter educationP valueBaselineAfter educationP valueBaselineAfter educationP valueBaselineAfter educationP value
  1. EE, expressed emotion; KASI, Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview.

  2. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test was used to compare the score at baseline with that after educational sessions; Mann–Whitney U-test was used to compare the score at baseline between the two groups showing no significant differences in all categories.

  3. Significantly different items have an educational effect.

High EE (n = 16)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.0592 (1–3)2 (1–4)0.7052 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.1603 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0752 (1–3)2 (1–4)0.034
2.2 ± 0.92.5 ± 0.9 2.0 ± 0.82.0 ± 0.6 2.0 ± 0.82.2 ± 0.9 2.6 ± 1.13.2 ± 1.0 1.5 ± 0.72.1 ± 0.7 
Low EE (n = 16)2 (1–4)4 (2–4)0.0542.5 (2–4)2 (1–3)0.2062.5 (1–3)3.5 (3–4)0.0183 (1–4)3 (2–4)0.0062 (1–3)3 (1–4)0.005
2.3 ± 1.12.6 ± 0.9 2.6 ± 0.82.4 ± 0.5 2.2 ± 0.93.1 ± 0.3 2.3 ± 1.13.3 ± 0.9 2.0 ± 0.62.5 ± 0.5 

Relapse and effects of educational programs

Of the 84 patients who could be followed up, 25 suffered a relapse, with a relapse rate of 29.8% (Table 4). There were no differences in patient/relative characteristics and in the KASI score at the baseline between relapsers and non-relapsers. As for the individual KASI score comparison between baseline and post-session assessment, non-relapsers had a significant increase in score in the diagnosis, etiology, course/outcome and treatment while relapsers had an increase only in the etiology and treatment. These results indicate that relatives of non-relapsers were more effectively educated in our sessions. Further, the relapse rate in the high and low EE groups was 38% and 31%, respectively, showing no relationship between EE status and relapse.

Table 4.  Effects of education according to relapse (median (range)/mean ± SD)
 KASI diagnosis scoreKASI symptom scoreKASI etiology scoreKASI course/outcome scoreKASI treatment score
BaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationP
  1. KASI, Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview.

  2. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test was used to compare the score at baseline with that after educational sessions; Mann–Whitney U-test was used to compare the score at baseline between the two groups showing no significant differences in all categories.

  3. Significantly different items have an educational effect.

Non-relapsers (n = 59)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.2843 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0153 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0022 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.001
2.3 ± 0.92.7 ± 1.0 2.2 ± 0.92.2 ± 0.9 2.4 ± 1.02.7 ± 0.9 2.5 ± 1.02.7 ± 0.9 2.5 ± 1.03.0 ± 1.0 
Relapsers (n = 25)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.2172 (1–4)3 (2–4)0.0523 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.0083 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.1502 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.013
2.2 ± 1.12.5 ± 1.0 2.4 ± 1.02.7 ± 0.6 2.3 ± 0.92.8 ± 0.8 2.7 ± 1.13.2 ± 1.0 1.8 ± 0.82.3 ± 0.8 

Programs and their effects

There were no differences in family members, EE status and relapse rate between three groups (Table 5). At the baseline, the KASI diagnosis score was lower in the P1 group than in the other two groups, and the KASI etiology score was higher in the P2 group than in the other two groups. As for the individual KASI score comparison between the baseline and post-session assessment, (i) the P1 group had a significant increase in score for diagnosis, etiology, course/outcome and treatment, and (ii) the P2 group had significant increase in score for diagnosis and course/outcome, and a trend of increase in treatment, while (iii) the P3 group had no change in all KASI categories. As has already been noted, some participants attended more than two programs. The results were not altered after removing the duplication of repeated participation families.

Table 5.  Effects of education using different programs (median (range)/mean ± SD)
 KASI diagnosis scoreKASI symptom scoreKASI etiology scoreKASI course/outcome scoreKASI treatment score
BaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationPBaselineAfter educationP
  1. KASI, Knowledge About Schizophrenia Interview; P1, small group with two sessions; P2, large group with nine sessions; P3, large group with five sessions.

  2. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test was used to compare the score at baseline and after educational sessions; Kruskal–Wallis test was used to compare the score at baseline between the three groups showing significant differences in the diagnosis category (P < 0.001), etiology category (P < 0.001), and total category (P < 0.001).

  3. Significantly different items have an educational effect.

P1 Program (n = 72)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.4232 (1–4)3 (1–4)<0.0013 (1–3)3 (1–4)<0.0012 (1–3)2 (1–4)<0.001
2.0 ± 0.92.5 ± 0.9 2.3 ± 0.82.3 ± 0.7 2.1 ± 0.92.6 ± 0.8 2.6 ± 1.13.1 ± 0.9 1.7 ± 0.72.2 ± 0.6 
P2 Program (n = 16)3 (2–4)4 (2–4)0.0132 (1–4)2 (1–3)0.1183 (3–4)3.5 (3–4)0.4142.5 (1–4)3 (2–4)0.0062 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.053
3.1 ± 0.83.6 ± 0.7 2.4 ± 1.22.0 ± 0.7 3.5 ± 0.53.4 ± 0.5 2.5 ± 0.83.4 ± 0.5 2.4 ± 1.43.4 ± 0.7 
P3 Program (n = 22)2 (1–4)2 (1–4)0.6273 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.6803 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.1303 (1–4)3 (1–4)0.5501 (1–3)2 (1–3)0.132
2.5 ± 0.92.5 ± 0.9 2.3 ± 1.12.2 ± 0.9 2.4 ± 0.92.7 ± 1.0 2.5 ± 1.12.5 ± 1.2 1.5 ± 0.71.9 ± 0.8 

DISCUSSION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES

The present results show that family psychoeducational programs had substantial effects on relatives. First, relatives were able to acquire knowledge related to schizophrenia, particularly concerning the diagnosis, etiology, course/prognosis, and treatment. The present results are consistent with previous reports. Using the same tool, Barrowclough et al. demonstrated acquired knowledge in the areas of diagnosis, etiology, symptomatology, course/prognosis and management.19 Nishio et al. also reported an education effect in the areas of symptomatology and prognosis.20 It could be said that psychoeducation is useful to help relatives to understand the illness as a whole.

The present finding that low-EE relatives acquired more knowledge than those with high EE seems to be inconsistent with the Berkowitz et al. study.21 Contrary to the UK, relatives in Japan may receive little information from professionals and the level of knowledge at baseline was almost the same between high- and low-EE relatives. In addition to this, emotional reactions during the program may interfere with knowledge acquirement in high-EE relatives. Care for relatives, particularly those showing emotional reactions, may be necessary during the sessions.

The extent of acquired knowledge of relatives of non-relapsers was superior to that of relatives of relapsers. These findings agree with the previous reports such as that by Berkowitz et al. that family psychoeducation increased knowledge and brought about changes in family attitudes, leading to a decrease in the relapse rate.18,21 Ishibashi et al. produced similar results using the same instrument as ours.22 As noted here, there were no differences in relapse rate between the three programs, but significant differences in extent of acquired knowledge were found between P1 and P2/P3. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of confounding factors such as usage of antipsychotic drugs, it is suggested that education has the power of relapse prevention in non-relapsers, independent of style of programs.

The present findings are unique in that they were consecutively obtained at the same institution. We assumed that with our own video/text and after several trials, that the most recent P3 program was most effective; but the results were contrary to expectations: the P3 program was the least effective. It may be that the program effects depend on hypothetical time allotted to each participant in each session. This is calculated by (i) dividing the number of session hours by participating members and (ii) multiplying it by the number of sessions. It is approximately 60–80 min in P1, 54–108 min in P2, and 30–60 min in P3. In family educational programs the participant time may affect the consequences, thereby suggesting directions for developing teaching styles of family education.23

There were some limitations of the present study. First, the sample may not have represented the relatives because we could not collect questionnaires from all the participants; second, the small number of relatives weakened the statistical power; third, relapse was not defined as worsening of symptoms or functions; fourth, a more powerful research design such as randomized controlled trial is needed to answer these questions. In addressing these limitations, we will be able to point the way towards a more precise type of family psychoeducational program.

In conclusion, the effects of family psychoeducation in terms of acquirement of knowledge depends on the time spent on the program per member, which suggests the way toward a more precise type of family psychoeducational program.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES

The authors express their thanks to Ms Hiroko Itoh, Manager of the Community Liaison Room of the hospital for allowing access to patients in her care.

REFERENCES

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
  7. REFERENCES
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