Helping Patients with Schizophrenia and their Caregivers

A new family-focused culturally-informed therapy has been developed by researchers at the University of Miami (UM). This treatment is aimed at reducing patients’ symptoms and improving patient and caregiver emotional well-being, explained principle investigator Amy Weisman de Mamani, Associate Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM.

“We have developed a program for the treatment of schizophrenia that taps into the family’s cultural beliefs, values, traditions, and religious practices to help them come to terms with the illness and better manage the symptoms,” Weisman de Mamani said. “We found that adding culturally-based segments to an already established family-focused treatment for schizophrenia reduced patients’ psychiatric symptoms, above and beyond an intervention that focused solely on educating family members about the illness.”

For the study, participants with schizophrenia from 46 separate families of different ethnic backgrounds participated in 15 weekly one-hour sessions. A control group also received three sessions of psycho- education about the illness. The researchers found those who participated in the CIT-S program had significant reductions in their psychiatric symptoms and their caregivers reported significantly lower levels of guilt, shame, and burden.

“The treatment is easy to administer and treatment manuals and materials are available in English and in Spanish,” Weisman de Mamani said. “We hope that the ease and accessibility of CIT-S will facilitate dissemination to hospitals and clinics that service individuals with schizophrenia and their loved ones.”


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