People with schizophrenia and their families. Fifteen-year outcome

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Background This paper presents 15-year outcome data on place of residence, clinical and social morbidity and carer distress in a cohort of 179 people with schizophrenia who were living with their families in 1981-1982.

Method Data on morbidity and carer distress were derived from replicated patient and informant interviews using standardised research instruments.Details of residence came from patient and informant interviews corroborated by case note information.

Results Thirty-nine (22%) of the original 179 patients were dead and six (3%) lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 134 patients, 74 (55%) still lived with their families, 31 (23%) lived in institutional accommodation, 26 (19%) lived alone and 3 (2%) were homeless. There was little change in the level of clinical or social morbidity or carer distress.

Conclusions These findings suggest that most people with schizophrenia who live with their families remain significantly disabled by their illness, while their carers suffer ongoing distress.Mental health services should seek to support families who want to care for relatives with schizophrenia. Appropriate alternative accommodation must be provided when family care is not possible.

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