Volume 44 Number 6, 2007
Pages 801 — 812

Abstract - Family contact, experience of family relationships, and views about family involvement in treatment among VA consumers with serious mental illness

Aaron Murray-Swank, PhD;1-2* Shirley Glynn, PhD;3-4 Amy N. Cohen, PhD;5 Michelle Sherman, PhD;6-7 Deborah P. Medoff, PhD;2 Li Juan Fang, MS;2 Amy Drapalski, PhD;1-2 Lisa B. Dixon, MD, MPH1-2

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Capitol Health Care Network (Veterans Integrated Service Network [VISN] 5), Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Baltimore, MD; 2Department of Psychiatry,
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; 3Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System at West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; 4Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los
Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; 5VA Desert Pacific (VISN 22) MIRECC, Los Angeles, CA; 6Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK; 7VA South Central (VISN 16) MIRECC, Oklahoma City, OK

Abstract — Family psychoeducation is a highly effective, but underused, evidence-based practice in the treatment of schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses. This study examined views about family relationships and family participation in care among a sample of 69 consumers with serious mental illness receiving treatment within the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. We found that younger consumers and those with higher levels of psychiatric symptoms were more likely to report family conflict and distress. Of participating consumers, 67% wanted family participation in their psychiatric treatment and those with at least weekly contact with family were more likely to want family participation. Consumers endorsed a number of barriers to family participation in their mental health treatment, including their own concerns about privacy and burdening family and skepticism that family involvement would be helpful. We discuss implications of these findings for the implementation of evidence-based family programs, including efforts toward development of a novel intervention that will address consumers' concerns and promote effective family participation in care.

Key words: evidence-based practice, family burden, family psychoeducation, family services, implementation, patient preferences, quality of care, recovery, rehabilitation, serious mental illness.

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