Psychoeducation Enhances Quality of Life in People with Schizophrenia

There are a number of factors that influence quality of life (QOL) for individuals living with schizophrenia. Included among those are family environment, support, symptom severity, medication, and treatment adherence sense of coherence (SOC) describes the comprehension an individual has of their own illness. When a person with schizophrenia understands the nuances of their mental health condition they can be a proactive participant in their own recovery. Integrating an educational foundation into existing treatment approaches may provide the best outcomes for schizophrenic clients and their families.

One such method for integration is a psychoeducational family intervention (PEFI). To determine if this approach enhances SOC and QOL, Walter Gassman of the Vitos Philippshospital in Germany recently conducted a study that assessed how SOC affected QOL in 25 participants who enrolled in the PEFI with their family members compared to 21 individuals with schizophrenia who did not and served as controls. The participants were assessed over a one-year period and the treatment was more intense than the usual sporadic and infrequent treatment that is often adopted in outpatient schizophrenic cases. Gassman found that the individuals with the lowest SOC had the poorest QOL reports prior to treatment. Those with high SOCs not only had higher levels of QOL, but also had lower rates of hospital admission and fewer symptoms. They also believed in the benefits of treatment more than those with low SOCs.

After they underwent PEFI, the participants with the lowest SOCs had the sharpest improvements in SOC and QOL, although their levels did not reach those of the participants with high baseline SOCs. However, the participants with high baseline SOCs were able to increase their QOLs to levels comparable with the general population after one year of treatment. This finding is very promising. Although PEFI proved to be a very viable intervention for families of schizophrenic clients and clients themselves, the biggest indicator of QOL was SOC. Gassman said, “All these findings confirm the hypothesis that the SOC is a good predictor for clinical outcomes and especially for QOL.” He hopes that future efforts focus on more ways to improve SOC in order to achieve a better QOL for all clients with schizophrenia.

Gassmann, Walter; Christ, Oliver; Lampert, Jana; and Berger, Hartmut. The influence of Antonovsky’s Sense of Coherence (SOC) and Psychoeducational Family Intervention (PEFI) on schizophrenic outpatient’s perceived quality of life: a longitudinal field study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1-6. 6p. 5 Charts, 1 Graph.DOI: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-10.

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  • Sid

    February 25th, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    One year of treatment bringing the quality of life levels nearly to that I be general populace is a great achievement!

    I have just one doubt though-keeping a person invested during treatment is not too hard to achieve but familial involvement may dwindle over long periods of time. Is this concern addressed through a strategy? How do they plan on tackling this?

  • Lala

    February 26th, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    It seems to hold pretty true to form that when you are dealing with mental illness and you work to get the families involved, then you are likely to have a greater chance for sucess.

    It might be the educational tools and resources that everyone is receiving or it may just be that additional support that the family member in need receives. But it is important to have them a part of the treatment as that is likely to help the person with a mental illness experience more success both in life and their treatment response and improvement.

  • andy

    February 26th, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    wow-this sounds so promising that people who really know what illness there dealing with can improve there lives so much. hopefully this will help all kinds of people like my uncle who have to live with this each and every day.

    it is a real hard thing for him to work through but his family is great and always there for him and always make sure he has his meds and goes to doctor appointments with him.

    i guess he really is one of the lucky ones!

  • Cole Q

    February 26th, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Incredible results:

    However, the participants with high baseline SOCs were able to increase their QOLs to levels comparable with the general population after one year of treatment.

    This should be replicated in so many different places. What a promising outcome!

  • Emily

    February 26th, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    I don’t know a lot about schizophrenia, but I have heard of patients being “actively schizophrenic” leading me to believe that maybe they have times in which they function normally. Is it possible that they could be in between schizophrenic break throughs for a whole year? I am just wondering if this could possibly have skewed the date. From what little I do understand, it seems that a schizophrenic person functioning as a nondisabled person would be a difficult achievement indeed.

  • Brenda

    February 26th, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Sid, I think your comment is good keeping a family wanting to go treatment when they aren’t the ones with the problem isn’t easy at all. my mom was sick for a long time and we all were supposed to go with her to see the doctor. but not everyone wanted to go all the time and it kind of fell apart after awhile. but she was good in the end I just wish everyone had wanted to go with her so she felt like we all cared about her.

  • Dilly

    February 26th, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    This kind of surprises me. I kind of thought medication would have been higher on the importance scale in getting people functioning normally.


    February 26th, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Don’t see how the data is accurate here. They compared the results of those with PEFI given treatment at regular intervals to those without the PEFI given control treatment at not so regular intervals. That is not a fair scale to gauge the influence of different methods! Maybe they should try to be a bit more fair the next time around!

  • Laura

    February 27th, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    This along with the appropriate combination of medications I presume?

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