Despite good evidence for their effectiveness in the treatment of schizophrenia, family interventions are difficult to implement. Prior to a local trust-wide programme to encourage their use, we carried out a case note review of family contact with clients and staff of community mental health teams (CMHTs). A 10% sample of CMHT clients was included.
The majority (81%) of clients had been in contact with family or carers in the preceding year. In 88% of case files the carers were relatives. In 37% of cases care coordinators were in recent contact with carers, primarily by telephone. Evidence of any family intervention was recorded in 5% of case files and carers' assessments in 7%.
The majority of CMHT clients have some form of contact with their families, and care coordinators make informal links with these families. This contact could be reframed to encourage more formal family interventions.
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