family psychoeducation reduces suicide risk

family psychoeducation reduces suicide risk
family psychoeducation reduces suicide risk

It is obvious. Caring for patients’ loved ones has a virtuous effect. A study has just shown that intervention with families would significantly reduce the suicidal risk of patients suffering from schizophrenia. This psychiatric illness, whose symptoms vary greatly – the most impressive are delusions and hallucinations, but the most debilitating are social withdrawal and cognitive difficulties – affects around 1% of the population. “Adapted care, combining pharmacological and psychosocial treatments, makes it possible to obtain lasting remission in a third of patients”underlines Inserm.

This new study, published in Frontiers of Psychiatry in April, covered 179 groups of family caregivers in France, i.e. 1,946 people at the start of the program, a thousand people at the end due to those lost to follow-up. The question “Has your loved one made one or more suicide attempts during the last twelve months? » was asked to caregivers just before starting the first module and one year later. Suicide attempts fell from 7% to 3% in families of people affected by schizophrenia who followed the Profamille psychoeducation program.

Created at the end of the 1980s in Quebec, this cognitive-behavioral approach includes fourteen four-hour sessions, every week or twice a month, and a so-called “consolidation” module of four sessions over two years. The first module of fourteen sessions allows caregivers to better understand the illness, the treatments, to improve their relationship with the sick loved one, to help them, and to better manage emotions. The second module aims to deepen the learning.

Also read the report (2014) | Schizophrenia: at the school of families

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“This reduction in suicidal risk was also observed in those who took little or no treatment”underlines psychiatrist Yann Hodé, president of the French-speaking Association for Psychoeducation of Families Profamille, who coordinated the study.

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How can these results be explained? “The level of emotions expressed by families is among the factors that contribute to increased suicidal risk”, he continues. In other words, “the more depressed and tired they are, the less they are able to help the patient, and the less they learn from the program”.

“With recent improvements to the program, we believe that we could ultimately eliminate the increased suicidal risk in schizophrenia”, observes Yann Hodé. A major issue both on a human and public health level. The disease causes a lot of suffering. About half of patients attempt suicide at least once during their lifetime. So, “not offering family psychoeducation in schizophrenia and associated disorders may represent a loss of opportunity for patients”concludes the study.

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