Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that can affect, according to some studies, between 0.3% and 1% of the population throughout life.

Approximately, a quarter of the isolated schizophrenic episodes will go no farther, but the rest move forward to a chronic disease that requires treatment. Chronicity of illness has a great impact on the daily routine and the quality of life of people that suffer from schizophrenia.

In Germany, there is an initiative based on a network of institutions and service providers in the Lower Saxony region. It places an emphasis on psychoeducation and interdisciplinary work. Specialised physicians and psychiatric services organize outpatient treatment to patients, providing community care assistance as long as patients need it. To implement this,  close collaboration between the professionals of the different health centres and social and community services is required.

Moreover, the initiative offers patients a wide range of possible outpatient treatments, both psychopharmacs and psychosocial care. In addition, social therapy and family support are enhanced areas in this project.

Contact of patients with the psychiatrists in charge of their therapies is essential. Although psychiatrists keep their independence on the therapeutic prescriptions, decisions are shared with patients and with the interdisciplinary care team. Then, psychiatrists define the therapeutic modules to assist patients’ needs.

According to the article,  psychoeducation is essential in this initiative. One of the primary challenges identified is the motivation of patients to participate. Psychoeducation is defined as the provision of systematic, structured and didactic information on the illness and its treatment.

Many evidences stress that psychoeducation provided to schizophrenia patients improves comprehension of the illness, enhances their quality of life, strengthens treatment compliance and reduces relapse rates. However, despite the importance of psychoeducation in the patient’s empowerment and in the improvement of the effectiveness of treatment, the majority of patients do not receive the service either as outpatients or in hospitals.

The article concludes that meeting and integrating all stakeholders of the health care systems is the proper way to improve the quality of health care in a sustainable form.

Source: Mayer-Amberg N, Woltmann R, Walther S. An Integrated Care Initiative to Improve Patient Outcome in Schizophrenia. January 2016.