Improving Knowledge About Mental Illness Through Family-Led Education: The Journey of Hope

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ObjectiveFamilies often do not receive the information that they need to care for their adult relatives with mental illness. This study examined the effectiveness of a family-led education intervention, the Journey of Hope, in improving participants' knowledge about mental illness and its treatment and decreasing their information needs.MethodsA total of 462 family members of adults with mental illness in Louisiana participated in the study; 231 were randomly assigned to immediate receipt of the Journey of Hope course (intervention group), and 231 were randomly assigned to a nine-month waiting list for the course (control group). Participants completed in-person, structured interviews assessing their knowledge of mental illness and problem-solving skills and their information needs at study enrollment (baseline), three months postbaseline, and eight months postbaseline.ResultsRandom regression analyses indicate that at three and eight months postbaseline, compared with participants assigned to the control group, those in the intervention group reported greater knowledge gains (beta=.84, p≤.01) and fewer needs for information on coping with positive symptoms (beta=-.63, p≤.05), coping with negative symptoms (beta=-.80, p≤.001), problem management (beta=-1.00, p≤.001), basic facts about mental illness and its treatment (beta=-.73, p≤.01), and community resources (beta=-.07, p≤.05). These significant differences in knowledge and information needs were maintained over time and were significant even when controlling for participants' demographic characteristics and their relatives' clinical characteristics.ConclusionsParticipation in family-led education interventions, such as the Journey of Hope, may provide families with the information they need to better cope with their relative's mental illness.

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