Monday, June 6, 2011

Empirical Support for the Family-to-Family Program

From the This Month's Highlights section of the June 2011 edition of Psychiatric Services:
Family- and consumer-driven care is at the center of a transformed system. Family members play important roles in the lives of most adults with serious mental illness. They need information and skills to help their loved one, as well as the support of others to fulfill their caregiver role without being overwhelmed by distress and burden. The Family-to-Family Education Program (FTF), introduced in the early 1990s by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the most widely disseminated mutual-support program for family members of people with mental illness.

Although an estimated 250,000 family members have participated in FTF, little research has focused on family selfhelp. In the lead article this month, Lisa B. Dixon, M.D., M.P.H. [pictured], and colleagues report the results of the first randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of FTF, which involved assignment of 318 family members from five Maryland counties to FTF or a waiting list. At three months (course termination), FTF participants had significantly greater improvements in problem-focused coping, as measured by empowerment and illness knowledge. Their emotion-focused coping was also significantly enhanced, and they had less distress and better problem- solving skills. These empirical findings confirm the word-of-mouth popularity of FTF among participants, the authors note, and provide support for consideration of brief family-driven educational programs as an evidence-based practice (page 591).
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Also see:

Strengthening Families Together

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