Positive family environment predicts improvement in symptoms and social functioning among adolescents at imminent risk for onset of psychosis
This study investigated whether family factors, such as criticism, emotional over-involvement (EOI), warmth, and positive remarks, as measured by the Camberwell Family Interview (CFI), predict symptom change and social outcome for individuals identified as at imminent risk for conversion to psychosis. Twenty-six adolescent patients were administered the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes and the Strauss-Carpenter Outcome Scale at baseline and follow-up assessment approximately three months later. Patients' primary caregivers were administered the CFI at baseline. After controlling for symptom severity at baseline, there were significant associations between caregivers' EOI at baseline and improvement in high-risk youths' negative symptoms and social functioning at follow-up. Similarly, caregivers' positive remarks at baseline were associated with improvement in negative and disorganized symptoms at follow-up, and warmth expressed by caregivers was associated with improved social functioning at follow-up. Although family members' critical comments were not related to patients' symptoms, the majority of critical remarks were focused on patients' negative symptoms and irritability/aggression, which may be important targets for early intervention. These preliminary results provide a first glimpse into the relationship between family factors and symptom development during the prodrome and suggest that positive family involvement predicts decreased symptoms and enhanced social functioning at this early stage. The finding that four-fifths of the youth enrolled in this early intervention clinical research program have shown symptomatic improvement by the three-month assessment point is very encouraging from an early detection/early intervention standpoint.
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