Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mental Illness with Families

Improving Knowledge About Mental Illness Through Family-Led Education: The Journey of Hope

Susan A. Pickett-Schenk, Ph.D., Richard C. Lippincott, M.D., Cynthia Bennett, M.A. and Pamela J. Steigman, M.A. OBJECTIVE: Families often do not receive the information that they need to care for their adult relatives with mental illness. This study examined the effectiveness of a family-led education intervention, the Journey of Hope, in improving participants' knowledge about mental illness and its treatment and decreasing their information needs. METHODS: A total of 462 family members of adults with mental illness in Louisiana participated in the study; 231 were randomly assigned to immediate receipt of the Journey of Hope course (intervention group), and 231 were randomly assigned to a nine-month waiting list for the course (control group). Participants completed in-person, structured interviews assessing their knowledge of mental illness and problem-solving skills and their information needs at study enrollment (baseline), three months postbaseline, and eight months postbaseline. RESULTS: Random regression analyses indicate that at three and eight months postbaseline, compared with participants assigned to the control group, those in the intervention group reported greater knowledge gains (beta=.84, p≤.01) and fewer needs for information on coping with positive symptoms (beta=-.63, p≤.05), coping with negative symptoms (beta=-.80, p≤.001), problem management (beta=-1.00, p≤.001), basic facts about mental illness and its treatment (beta=-.73, p≤.01), and community resources (beta=-.07, p≤.05). These significant differences in knowledge and information needs were maintained over time and were significant even when controlling for participants' demographic characteristics and their relatives' clinical characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: Participation in family-led education interventions, such as the Journey of Hope, may provide families with the information they need to better cope with their relative's mental illness.