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World J Psychiatr. Dec 31, 2011; 1(1): 4-7
Published online Dec 31, 2011. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v1.i1.4
Family interventions in schizophrenia: Issues of relevance for Asian countries
Subho Chakrabarti
Subho Chakrabarti, Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh 160012, India
Author contributions: Chakrabarti S solely contributed to this paper.
Correspondence to: Subho Chakrabarti, MD, MAMS, FRCPsych, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh 160012, India. subhochd@yahoo.com
Telephone: +91-172-2756808 Fax: +91-172-2744401
Received: October 9, 2011
Revised: November 4, 2011
Accepted: December 26, 2011
Published online: December 31, 2011

A growing body of research evidence has confirmed the efficacy of family-interventions as adjuncts to antipsychotics for the treatment of schizophrenia. Much of the recent evidence for such interventions derives from Asian, principally Chinese, studies. These trials have shown that relatively simple forms of family-interventions have wide ranging benefits, and can be implemented successfully in routine clinical settings. With the accumulation of this evidence in their favour, family-interventions for schizophrenia in Asia are poised to take the next critical step, that of wider implementation and improved accessibility for potential users. However, several issues merit consideration. Family-interventions need to be based on a culturally-informed theory, which incorporates cultural variables of relevance in these countries. While the ideal format for conducting family-interventions is still to be determined, it is quite evident that for such interventions to be useful they need to be simple, inexpensive, needs-based, and tailored to suit the socio-cultural realities of mental health systems in Asian countries. The evidence also suggests that delivery by non-specialist personnel is the best way to ensure that such services reach those who stand to benefit most from these treatments. However, there are several existing challenges to the process of dissemination of family-interventions. The major challenges include the achievement of a critical mass of trained professionals capable of delivering these interventions, and finding innovative solutions to make family-interventions more acceptable to families. If these hurdles are overcome, we could look forward to a genuine collaboration with families, who have always been the mainstay of care for the mentally ill in Asia.

Keywords: Asia, Culture, Family interventions, Schizophrenia