Positive affect in the family environment protects against relapse in first-episode psychosis

Gary Lee, Christine Barrowclough, Fiona Lobban

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: To evaluate the contribution of positive affect in the family environment to relapse in first episode psychosis. Method: 65 service users with a first episode of psychosis were recruited into the current study along with their key relatives. Relatives were interviewed and rated using the Expressed Emotion (EE) measure of warmth, whilst service users completed questionnaires about the positive and negative affects that they perceived from the family environment. Associations between these measures and relapse were examined in a one-year prospective design. Results: Service users were less likely to relapse within 6 and 12-month follow-up periods when their relatives were rated high on EE warmth, or when they perceived more positive affect from the family. The relationships between service users' perceived positive affect and relapse were preserved after controlling for baseline symptoms, substance use and employment status. Service users' perceptions of positive affect and EE ratings of warmth appeared to be stronger predictors of relapse outcome than criticism and other EE variables. Conclusions: Positive family environments may protect against relapse in first episode psychosis. Psychosocial interventions should aim to foster and maintain positive affect in families during the early stages of illness. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms linking positive affect and outcomes for people recovering from psychosis. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)367-376
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


    • Expressed emotion
    • Family
    • First episode psychosis
    • Warmth


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