The FIRST trial (Family Intervention in Recent Onset Schizophrenia Treatment), led by Mancevski, is aiming to determine whether providing caregivers with specialized psychoeducation and skills training can help ease some of this burden, while simultaneously helping patients follow their treatment plan.
We sat down with Mancevski to learn more about why this clinical trial is so important, and how it has the potential to improve the health of people with schizophrenia and those who care for them.
Q: Why are caregivers such an essential part of treatment for schizophrenia patients?
A: About 8.4 million Americans are providing care for loved ones with serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.
These caregivers are really the closest people to the patients and provide essential care that physicians can’t: They accompany patients to doctor appointments, assist with everyday tasks, ensure that prescriptions get filled and more. That’s extremely valuable, but it’s also a tremendous burden.
These family members (and sometimes close friends) spend an estimated 32 hours a week providing care. That’s almost like a full-time job, but it’s unpaid—and it’s on top of everything else they’re doing in their own lives, like going to work, maintaining their households and spending time with other family members.
This burden has long been recognized in the field of psychiatry, but the support that caregivers get is very inconsistent.
Depending on where you live and what resources you have access to, you might only get a 15-minute chat with your loved one’s doctor, or you might be enrolled in a sophisticated, in-depth training program.
Read the full article and interview here: