February 07, 2006

Family environment may reduce prodromal psychosis symptoms

New research suggests that a positive adolescent family environment may reduce prodromal (early stage) psychosis symptoms. (note: schizophrenia is one type of psychosis). This theme of research has been reported previously on how high stress family environments seem to significantly increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

This new research suggests that providing positive family involvement to adolescents who are in the prodromal stages of psychosis can help reduce symptoms and enhance social functioning.

"Recently established methods for early detection of 'prodromal' individuals at imminent high risk for conversion to psychosis allow for investigation of additional predictive risk and protective factors," observe Mary O'Brien (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and colleagues.

In the research study they note that most prodromal individuals who develop schizophrenia are adolescents. They investigated the impact of family factors, such as criticism, emotional over-involvement, warmth, and positive remarks, as measured on the Camberwell Family Interview, on symptom change and social outcome.

The researchers noted that in their study:

caregivers' emotional over-involvement (i.e. more support than normal) was associated with improvement in the negative symptoms of the patient, as well as in their level of social function.

positive remarks from caregivers' led to improvements in negative and disorganized symptoms, and warmth expressed by the family was associated with improved social functioning.

The researchers suggest that Interventions aimed at helping families to cope effectively with negative symptoms expressed during adolescence may be particularly useful during the early prodromal stage before criticism and hostility have become entrenched,"

Source: Schizophrenia Research 2006; 81: 269–275


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