January 08, 2008

Good Sibling Relationships Improve Outcome in Schizophrenia, and Related Research Grants

A new research study published this month in the journal, Psychiatric Services, discusses certain factors which may affect the quality of sibling relationships for people who suffer from schizophrenia.

Specifically, the findings of the study suggest that the quality of the relationships with their siblings may affect the lives of adults who suffer from schizophrenia. The data for the study were obtained from a longitudinal study which examined 136 siblings in families of adults who suffer from schizophrenia.

The researchers discovered that siblings of adult sufferers of schizophrenia had a reportedly higher quality relationship with their mentally ill sibling if they were raised in a "cohesive family environment...and when they experienced more personal gains from coping with the challenges of a brother's or sister's mental illness."

However, people had reportedly worse relationships with their mentally ill siblings if they viewed symptoms of their siblings' illness as being controllable (by the person who had schizophrenia). The researchers conclude, "...the quality of the sibling relationship is a major contributor to sibling involvement in the future and to the quality of life of adults with schizophrenia."

Our take on this study is that people who have schizophrenia are going to do better when the brothers and sisters understand that the person who has schizophrenia is not acting or thinking strangely on purpose - but its part of the mental illness that they have no control over. This would seem reasonable - as the person who is ill then would get empathy, rather than hassles or confrontations. From what we've seen discussed in our support forums - this is exactly what families experience.

Source: Factors Contributing to the Quality of Sibling Relationships for Adults With Schizophrenia. Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., M.S.W. and Jan S. Greenberg, Ph.D. (Psychiatric Services)

Related Reading:
Growth Mindset
Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia
Pam Wagner's Blog

Relevant to this new research are two new grants given to two researchers at Emory University and University of California, San Diego by the National Institute of Mental Health. The aim of these grants is "to determine how well community-dwelling people with schizophrenia are faring." According to the story issued by the NIMH, currently researchers aren't sure whether measures being used to assess the level of independent functioning of schizophrenia sufferers in real-world environments are accurate. Thus, the grants aim to assess the accuracy of these measurements, as well as to identify which treatments are the most helpful to patients of schizophrenia living somewhat independently. Researchers also hope to assess which people in the participants lives are accurate providers of information regarding the participants' functioning.

Real-World Outcomes in Schizophrenia Are Focus of Two New NIMH Grants


I appreciate this article. My twin sister is empathetic towards me now. It seems like it took a while, but now she is more empathetic towards me. She doesn't blame me for my thoughts/thinking. She is definitely empanthetic and I love her for it.

Posted by: Trina Aleman at January 9, 2008 04:48 PM

Family relationship help reduce the personal stress of both positive symptoms and support through those negative symptoms of the disease.

It takes time to regain what is lost in a Schizophrenic break. Bear in mind that reality is limited in this enviornment and just being cognizant of things in there passing.

Any sort of recovery that is salvage is welcomed.

Posted by: J D at January 11, 2008 01:39 PM

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