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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 43 (2001) 4, 219 - 231

New research

Social functioning and the course of recent-onset schizophrenia

M.E. Lenior, P.M.A.J. Dingemans, D.H. Linszen, L. de Haan, A.H. Schene

background Since treatment of schizophrenic patients has shifted from long term hospital admissions to community services, the research on social functioning has become increasingly important, because schizophrenia implies severe social impairments.
aims Follow-up assessment of social functioning of young schizophrenic patients, 5 years after treatment in the Adolescent Clinic of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam.
method Patients and parents from a historical cohort were contacted. Families who previously participated in a 15-month intervention programme, were randomised into two conditions: standard intervention and standard plus family intervention.
results Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia had experienced longer periods of psychotic episodes than patients with schizophrenia-like disorders. They stayed in institutions for psychiatric patients for a longer period and received more help from parents. The number of months with structural activities was low for both diagnosis groups. Although no differential treatment effect with regard to the course of psychiatric symptoms was found, the patients from families who had received additional family intervention stayed significantly shorter in institutions for psychiatric patients than patients who had received the standard intervention.
conclusion Social limitations in patients with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like disorders are considerable. Family intervention helps parents to support their child, thus preventing rehospitalisations.

keywords early intervention, family intervention, psychotic relapse, schizophrenia, social functioning