Dr John Kane on the Importance of Patient, Family Engagement in Schizophrenia

Patient and family engagement is important for ensuring positive clinical outcomes in schizophrenia, which can affect a patient's insight and judgement, explained John Kane, MD, professor and chairman, department of psychiatry, The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, The Zucker Hillside Hospital.

Patient and family engagement is important for ensuring positive clinical outcomes in schizophrenia, which can affect a patient's insight and judgement, explained John Kane, MD, professor and chairman, department of psychiatry, The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, The Zucker Hillside Hospital.

TranscriptHow important is patient and family engagement for ensuring medication adherence and other positive clinical outcomes in schizophrenia?

So, patient engagement is key. We really are not going to succeed in helping people with their illness unless they are engaged in treatment, and that’s a big challenge because an illness like schizophrenia can affect insight and judgment. People sometimes don’t appreciate the fact that they are ill, that they’re experiencing an illness. We also know that treatment may require a long time. People might need to stay in treatment to prevent a relapse from occurring.

So, engagement and sustained engagement is really key. And when the illness first begins, that can be one of the biggest challenges—sustained engagement. Particularly if somebody, ironically, is doing well, they feel they no longer need treatment, and in fact those individuals have a lot to lost if they do get sick again. So, that’s a little bit of a paradox, in a way, for some people. It’s hard for them to appreciate the need for prophylactic treatment, even when they’re feeling well.

In terms of the family, that’s extremely important, as well. Particularly in the early phases of the illness, the young person is often still living with the family or very involved with the family. They need to be educated as to the nature of the illness, what’s going on. So, they’re engagement is also very, very important.