Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation

Mental Health

Researchers Improving Treatment Outcomes In Schizophrenia
First Published: Investigator - October 2003

A pilot program conducted by Flinders researchers has found community education and training is the key to improving treatment outcomes in schizophrenia.

The course designed by Professor Ann Crocker in the Department of Psychiatry is to help people with schizophrenia understand why the drugs they take are important

"Often people with schizophrenia don’t take their drugs because they don’t fully understand why they are having them and they are concerned about the side effects. The program involves talking about the drugs, their importance, the side effects, how to manage the illness and how to identify early warning signs of relapse, so they can get some more help if they need to." said Professor Crocker.

Drugs have certainly improved for the treatment of schizophrenia but there are other things that ensure better outcomes for people. For example, good community support services, access to a range of accommodation options and education markedly improve outcomes and decrease the likelihood of relapse and re-hospitalisation.

Another important issue is obtaining help early in the course of the illness.

Professor Crocker said ‘There are many inhibitions about doing this and the chances are someone who thinks they maybe becoming mentally ill will do nothing because they are too scared to acknowledge they have a problem.

This then means they don’t seek early treatment, which is associated with better long term outcomes.

The initial findings of this pilot project have been very positive and Professor Crocker is confident the program will be introduced into the wider community in the near future.

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