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Adolescent family perceptions in the At-Risk Mental State for psychosis

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Publication details

JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2013
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2015
Issue number4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)316-323
Early online date29/11/13
Original languageEnglish


AIM: There is a long-standing interest in the relationship between patients affected by psychosis and their families. Previous research also suggests that perceived family dysfunction is a factor commonly associated with psychological problems in adolescence. The current study examined the role of self-reported family perceptions in the context of adolescents with an At-Risk Mental State (ARMS) for psychosis.

METHODS: Family perceptions were obtained using the Family Perceptions Scale (FPS) and compared across three groups; an ARMS for psychosis group (n = 44), a first-episode affective/non-affective psychosis group (n = 26) and a control group (n = 140) drawn from a community population.

RESULTS: Scores on the FPS Expressed Emotion subscale were significantly higher in the psychosis and ARMS groups, compared to controls (P = 0.039 and P = 0.041, respectively). In contrast, participants in the ARMS group reported poorer perceived problem solving and lower levels of nurturing behaviour in their families compared to controls (P = 0.032 and P = 0.027). Overall, family perceptions were not related to symptom severity in both the ARMS and psychosis groups (except for manic symptomatology and Expressed Emotion).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight that ARMS patients are likely to report higher levels of perceived family dysfunction compared to a community sample of young people. However, the mechanisms by which family perceptions may contribute to the development of distressing psychotic symptoms remain unclear and require further study. Family work, with a focus upon improving perceived expressed emotion, nurturing behaviours and hostility may at this stage represent a feasible adjunct therapy for those with ARMS.

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

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