Objective: To determine whether a 24-week, needs-based cognitive-behaviourally oriented family intervention for patients suffering from schizophrenia led to improved relapse profiles over a 5-year follow-up period.
Method: The case notes of 60 patients who had participated in a randomized, controlled effectiveness trial were examined to determine relapse rates over a 5-year period.
Results: Patients were less likely to relapse over the 5-year follow-up when they received the needs-based family intervention, especially in relation to exacerbations of symptoms not requiring inpatient admissions: 86.7% of control participants relapsed compared with 53.3% (P = 0.01). Survival analysis indicated that the relapse risk was 2.5 times higher for patients receiving routine care, compared with those receiving family intervention. A similar trend was observed for the final 4 years of follow-up.
Conclusion: The present study provides some tentative support for the long-term effectiveness of family-based interventions for the management of schizophrenia in general mental health services.