Culturally-adapted Family Intervention (CaFI) for African Caribbeans with schizophrenia and their families: A feasibility study of implementation and acceptability

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Background: African-Caribbean people in the UK experience the highest incidence of schizophrenia and the greatest inequity in mental health care. There is an urgent need to improve their access to evidence-based care and outcomes. Family intervention (FI) is a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-approved psychosocial intervention. Although clinically effective and cost-effective for schizophrenia, it is rarely offered. Evidence for any research into FI is lacking for ethnic minority people generally and for African-Caribbean
people specifically.

Aims: (1) To assess the feasibility of delivering a novel, culturally appropriate psychosocial intervention within a ‘high-risk’ population to improve engagement and access to evidence-based care. (2) To test the feasibility and acceptability of delivering FI via ‘proxy families’.

Design: A mixed-methods, feasibility cohort study, incorporating focus groups and an expert consensus conference.

Setting: Two mental health trusts in north-west England.

Participants: We recruited a convenience sample of 31 African-Caribbean service users. Twenty-six family units [service users, relatives/family support members (FSMs) or both] commenced therapy. Half of the service users (n = 13, 50%), who did not have access to their biological families, participated by working with FSMs.

Interventions: An extant FI model was culturally adapted with key stakeholders using a literature-derived framework [Culturally adapted Family Intervention (CaFI)]. Ten CaFI sessions were offered to each service user and associated family.

Main outcome measures: Recruitment (number approached vs. number consented), attendance (number of sessions attended), attrition (number of dropouts at each time point), retention (proportion of participants who completed therapy sessions), and completeness of outcome measurement.

Results: Of 74 eligible service users, 31 (42%) consented to take part in the feasibility trial. The majority (n = 21, 67.7%) were recruited from community settings, seven (22.6%) were recruited from rehabilitation settings and three (9.7%) were recruited from acute wards. Twenty-four family units (92%) completed all 10 therapy sessions. The proportion who completed treatment was 77.42% (24/31). The mean number of sessions attended was 7.90 (standard deviation 3.96 sessions) out of 10. It proved feasible to collect a
range of outcome data at baseline, post intervention and at the 3-month follow-up. The rating of sessions and the qualitative findings indicated that CaFI was acceptable to service users, families, FSMs and health-care professionals.

Limitations: The lack of a control group and the limited sample size mean that there is insufficient power to assess efficacy. The findings are not generalisable beyond this population.

Conclusions: It proved feasible to culturally adapt and test FI with a sample of African-Caribbean service users and their families. Our study yielded high rates of recruitment, attendance, retention and data completion. We delivered CaFI via FSMs in the absence of biological families. This novel aspect of the study has implications for other groups who do not have access to their biological families. We also demonstrated the feasibility of collecting a range of outcomes to inform future trials and confirmed CaFI’s acceptability to key stakeholders. These are important findings. If CaFI can be delivered to the group of service users with the most serious and persistent disparities in schizophrenia care, it has the potential to be modified for and delivered to other underserved groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages348
JournalHealth Service & Delivery Research (NIHR Journals)
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Ethnicity
  • psychological intervention
  • cultural-adaptation
  • African-Caribbean
  • Schizophrenia
  • psychosis

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities


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