Objective: To examine longer-term effectiveness of a needs-based family intervention for carers and out-patients suffering from schizophrenia.
Method: Seventy-nine unselected patient–carer pairs were recruited from a geographical area and allocated randomly to one of two conditions. One group received needs-based cognitive-behavioural family intervention in combination with general family support plus the standard care. The control group received the general family support and standard care only.
Results: Analysis was carried out on an intention-to-treat basis. There was a significant advantage for family intervention, in terms of relapse (37% relapsed compared to 72%, NNT=3) and on other clinical measures. Treatment group and medication compliance were significant and independent predictors of relapse. There was a significant reduction in carer needs in the intervention group.
Conclusion: Family intervention directed at carers' needs within a standard mental health service can produce benefits for patients beyond the term of intervention.