It has been claimed (Abbati et al, 1987) that patients benefit from continuity of professional involvement sustained over a long period. Schizophrenia sufferers in particular find it harder than non-sufferers to articulate their difficulties and concerns, and may adjust poorly to change, only building up trust in professionals over an extended period. In their turn, professionals need time to get to know such individuals and to recognise ‘early signs’ (Birchwood et al, 1989) of possible relapse. Management of potential decompensation involves a knowledge of how the individual has responded to changes in medication in the past and what psychosocial factors may be relevant. Working with such patients refines the clinician's skills in interacting with them, obtaining their compliance with a particular regime, and pre-empting potential problems. Without this background of knowledge and experience, the management of sufferers may be crude with adverse results for the patient.
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