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Study Finds Community-Based Mental Health Treatment



Schizophrenia is a long-term and often disabling brain disorder. People with schizophrenia suffer a break in the links among their thoughts, feelings and behavior. They may hear voices that other people do not. Schizophrenics often withdraw from reality -- from family and friends.

This means they may not seek help for the disorder. The main treatment for schizophrenia is medication. But sufferers may forget to take their medicine. Now, research suggests that community-based, in-home care is an effective method for treating people with schizophrenia.

The study involved almost 300 schizophrenic patients in India. All the patients were between 16 and 60 years old. Researchers looked at community care for these men and women in their homes. Then the researchers compared it to the care received at mental health centers.

Study leader Graham Thornicroft is with the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College in London. He says health care workers visited the homes of 187 schizophrenic patients. The workers gave the patients medication and follow-up care between doctor visits. They taught family members how to care for their loved ones.

The in-home care was combined with visits to mental health center visits. The progress of this group was compared to 95 patients who received care only at mental health centers. Mr. Thornicroft says that a year later the patients who received in-home care showed major improvements. He said they were more connected to the real world, had fewer problems and were more likely to take their medicine.

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