K Koutra, S Triliva, T Roumeliotaki, M Basta, C Lionis and AN Vgontzas,
Community mental health journal, 2016 08
The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between illness-related characteristics, such as symptom severity and psychosocial functioning, and specific aspects of family functioning both in patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis (FEP) and chronically ill patients. A total of 50 FEP and 50 chronic patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (most recent episode manic severe with psychotic features) and their family caregivers participated in the study. Family functioning was evaluated in terms of cohesion and flexibility (FACES IV Package), expressed emotion (FQ), family burden (FBS) and caregivers' psychological distress (GHQ-28). Patients' symptom severity (BPRS) and psychosocial functioning (GAS) were assessed by their treating psychiatrist within 2 weeks from the caregivers' assessment. Increased symptom severity was associated with greater dysfunction in terms of family cohesion and flexibility (β coefficient -0.13; 95 % CI -0.23, -0.03), increased caregivers' EE levels on the form of emotional overinvolvement (β coefficient 1.03; 95 % CI 0.02, 2.03), and psychological distress (β coefficient 3.37; 95 % CI 1.29, 5.45). Family burden was found to be significantly related to both symptom severity (β coefficient 3.01; 95 % CI 1.50, 4.51) and patient's functioning (β coefficient -2.04; 95 % CI -3.55, -0.53). No significant interaction effect of chronicity was observed in the afore-mentioned associations. These findings indicate that severe psychopathology and patient's low psychosocial functioning are associated with poor family functioning. It appears that the effect for family function is significant from the early stages of the illness. Thus, early psychoeducational interventions should focus on patients with severe symptomatology and impaired functioning and their families.