Opinions of mothers on the first psychotic episode and the start of treatment of their child

L de Haan, K Welborn, M Krikke, D H Linszen
European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists 2004, 19 (4): 226-9
Parents, especially mothers, have a critical role in initiating psychiatric treatment for their child with first-episode schizophrenia. Knowledge of attitudes of mothers towards the illness of their child prior to psychiatric treatment and towards the start of treatment is essential for the development of interventions for reducing duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). In the present study, mothers (n = 61) of consecutively admitted patients with recent-onset schizophrenic disorders were interviewed about: their views on the nature of the symptoms at first occurrence of psychotic symptoms in their child and views on the main reason for psychiatric treatment; their perception of problems in initiating psychiatric treatment; and suggestions they might have for getting treatment started at an earlier point in time. About 57% of the mothers did not think that their child had a psychosis at first occurrence of psychotic symptoms. Most of the mothers who immediately thought that their child suffered from a psychotic disorder supposed that this disorder was caused by use of street drugs. About one-third (32.8%) of the mothers thought that the reluctance of patients to acknowledge that they needed help was the major obstacle in initiating psychiatric treatment. More than half of the mothers perceived factors related to the delivery of professional care as problems in initiating psychiatric treatment. Given the reluctance of patients to accept treatment, these problems further complicate the initiating of treatment. Mothers emphasize that a more active approach by professional caregivers could reduce treatment delay.

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