Current approaches to treatments for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, part II: psychosocial interventions and patient-focused perspectives in psychiatric care
Wai Tong Chien, Sau Fong Leung, Frederick KK Yeung, Wai Kit Wong
School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Abstract: Schizophrenia is a disabling psychiatric illness associated with disruptions in cognition, emotion, and psychosocial and occupational functioning. Increasing evidence shows that psychosocial interventions for people with schizophrenia, as an adjunct to medications or usual psychiatric care, can reduce psychotic symptoms and relapse and improve patients' long-term outcomes such as recovery, remission, and illness progression. This critical review of the literature was conducted to identify the common approaches to psychosocial interventions for people with schizophrenia. Treatment planning and outcomes were also explored and discussed to better understand the effects of these interventions in terms of person-focused perspectives such as their perceived quality of life and satisfaction and their acceptability and adherence to treatments or services received. We searched major healthcare databases such as EMBASE, MEDLINE, and PsycLIT and identified relevant literature in English from these databases. Their reference lists were screened, and studies were selected if they met the criteria of using a randomized controlled trial or systematic review design, giving a clear description of the interventions used, and having a study sample of people primarily diagnosed with schizophrenia. Five main approaches to psychosocial intervention had been used for the treatment of schizophrenia: cognitive therapy (cognitive behavioral and cognitive remediation therapy), psychoeducation, family intervention, social skills training, and assertive community treatment. Most of these five approaches applied to people with schizophrenia have demonstrated satisfactory levels of short- to medium-term clinical efficacy in terms of symptom control or reduction, level of functioning, and/or relapse rate. However, the comparative effects between these five approaches have not been well studied; thus, we are not able to clearly understand the superiority of any of these interventions. With the exception of patient relapse, the longer-term (eg, >2 years) effects of these approaches on most psychosocial outcomes are not well-established among these patients. Despite the fact that patients' perspectives on treatment and care have been increasingly concerned, not many studies have evaluated the effect of interventions on this perspective, and where they did, the findings were inconclusive. To conclude, current approaches to psychosocial interventions for schizophrenia have their strengths and weaknesses, particularly indicating limited evidence on long-term effects. To improve the longer-term outcomes of people with schizophrenia, future treatment strategies should focus on risk identification, early intervention, person-focused therapy, partnership with family caregivers, and the integration of evidence-based psychosocial interventions into existing services.
Keywords: schizophrenia, psychosocial intervention, patient-focused perspectives
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