October 10, 2007

Survey Shows Families More Optimistic on Treatment Outcomes in Schizophrenia (Europe)

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping

New Survey Conveys Fundamental Shift in the Perceptions of Treatment Outcomes in Schizophrenia

The European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI) -- a NAMI-like organization -- Announced that a recently-completed Survey Shows Carers Across Europe Believe in Remission as a Realistic Treatment Goal for Many People Living With Schizophrenia

A large majority of families who care for someone with schizophrenia are confident that many people with the disease can lead independent, fulfilling lives with the ability to have a part-time job when having optimal control over their symptoms. These results announced today on World Mental Health Day, are findings from a European survey of over 320 families and carers of people with schizophrenia conducted between July and September 2007 by EUFAMI .

Remission in schizophrenia means the person's condition has improved so much that the core symptoms of schizophrenia (those that lead to the diagnosis of schizophrenia) are so low that the person can generally function as well as they did before they were diagnosed. In fact, it becomes quite hard to tell that the person actually suffers from schizophrenia. This improvement must have been seen for at least six months before they can be clinically defined as being 'in remission'.

"This survey tells us that, while families are realistic about the possible outcomes for people with schizophrenia, they believe in remission as a positive and sensible treatment goal," Kevin Jones from EUFAMI commented. "At EUFAMI we are confident that this optimistic outlook, together with developments in how the disease is managed, will contribute to improving outcomes for those having to cope with schizophrenia."

An estimated 6.6 million people in Europe suffer from schizophrenia:(1) a serious mental illness characterized by disturbances in the thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behavior of a person. People with schizophrenia and their families are not only impacted by the disease itself but also by the stigma and negative perception that the disorder has in the public eye. Due to advances in the knowledge and treatment of schizophrenia over the last 50 years, the expected treatment outcomes have dramatically improved, moving from symptom control or stability into more positive outcomes such as sustained remission, functional remission and recovery. While the concept of remission is already in use for other medical disciplines it represents new thinking for schizophrenia and indicates a level at which only minimal key symptoms are present which do not interfere with the person's daily life. (additional details on the survey can be downloaded here)

The survey proved that the positive advances in the management of schizophrenia clearly resonate with carers as 76% believe that remission is achievable for people living with schizophrenia.

"Remission in schizophrenia signifies a dramatic advancement in its management and demonstrates an improvement in the person's condition to the point where it can be hard to tell that they actually suffer from the condition. The survey highlighted that rehabilitation into the family, workplace and society is becoming a much more realistic goal to strive towards," said Kevin Jones.

Healthcare professionals however, are perceived by families and carers as being less optimistic about the possible treatment outcomes of schizophrenia. The concepts of remission or recovery were not discussed with the majority of carers and only a small number were introduced to treatment goals with a positive stance. If outcomes were discussed by the healthcare professionals, families were told that the most likely outcome was that the symptoms of schizophrenia were likely to continue and impact their everyday life.

The survey also looked at what factors were important in achieving and maintaining remission in people with schizophrenia, and 81% of the carers surveyed felt that the chances of achieving remission would be improved if appropriate treatment is instigated shortly after diagnosis. Sadly, the survey also showed that in their experience, accurate diagnosis often takes five years or more.

In order to stay in remission and prevent relapses, adherence to treatment was identified by carers as the most important factor in medical management of the disease. However, the survey also highlighted a number of reasons why people with schizophrenia may struggle to adhere to their medication long-term. The most common reasons as indicated by carers were treatment side effects and lack of education both regarding the condition and the possible benefits of staying on treatment.

Interim survey results were presented as part of the IV EUFAMI congress 'Touching the Stars' in ToruÃ…, Poland on 16th September 2007.

Further information and detailed survey results can be obtained by visiting http://www.eufami.org.


EUFAMI, founded in 1992 and based in Belgium, is the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with mental illness and represents the voice of families and carers at the European level. It has 50 member associations from 28 countries across Europe. A founding principle of EUFAMI is that the rights of families as a group must be established and recognised. EUFAMI is committed to work for the improvement of care and welfare for people affected by mental illness. Further information is available at http://www.eufami.org.

About remission

About the survey

The quantitative online survey was conducted by GfK HealthCare - a London-based market research agency specialising in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors - on behalf of EUFAMI for carers/families of people with schizophrenia. 325 respondents completed the survey (covering a total of 21 countries), all of whom were screened to ensure that they lived within Europe and were a current 'carer' of a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia. The fieldwork took place during the period 25th June and 16th September 2007 inclusive. The survey was funded by an educational grant from Janssen-Cilag.


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