The ability of multifamily groups to improve treatment adherence in Mexican Americans with schizophrenia

Alex Kopelowicz, Roberto Zarate, Charles J. Wallace, Robert Paul Liberman, Steven R. Lopez, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Context: Evidence-based interventions to improve medication adherence among patients with schizophrenia are lacking. Although family psychoeducation has demonstrated efficacy in improving outcomes in schizophrenia, empirical support for its ability to enhance medication adherence is scarce. Objective: To determine whether a culturally adapted, multifamily group (MFG) therapy would increase medication adherence and decrease psychiatric hospitalizations for Spanish-speaking Mexican Americans with schizophrenia. Design: A total of 174 Mexican American adults with schizophrenia-spectrum disorder and their key relatives were studied in a 3-armed, randomized controlled trial of MFG therapy focused on improving medication adherence. Assessments occurred at baseline and at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24 months. Setting: Two community mental health centers in Los Angeles, California. Participants: Patients had a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder with a recent exacerbation of psychotic symptoms and nonadherence to medication before enrollment. Intervention: Patients participated in 1 of 2 MFGs (MFG-adherence or MFG-standard) or treatment as usual. Groups convened twice monthly in 90-minute sessions for 1 year. Main Outcome Measures: The Treatment Compliance Interview uses multiple sources of information to quantify medication adherence. Computerized records were used to collect information on the use of inpatient resources. Results: At the end of the 1-year treatment, MFG-adherence was associated with higher medication adherence than MFG-standard or treatment as usual only (F=6.41; P=.003). The MFG-adherence participants had a longer time to first hospitalization (χ 2=13.3; P=.001) and were less likely to be hospitalized than those in MFG-standard (χ 2=8.2; P=.04) and treatment as usual alone (χ 2=11.3; P<.001). Increased adherence accounted for one-third of the overall effect of treatment on the reduced risk for psychiatric hospitalization. Conclusion: Multifamily group therapy specifically tailored to improve medication adherence through a focus on the beliefs and attitudes of the target population is associated with improved outcome for Mexican American adults with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01125267.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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