Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. In this randomized control trial, resource groups (RGs) improved empowerment in individuals with severe mental illness (SMI).

2. Those in the RG route also showed improvements in personal recovery, social contact, disability, general functioning, and social functioning.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Individuals who experience severe mental illness (SMI) are at increased risk of treatment-resistant symptoms. Social support represents an important aspect of mental health intervention. Resource groups (RGs) provide structured integration of social network support into the treatment plan of patients. These groups have both formal components and informal components, consisting of healthcare practitioners and peers, respectively.

This randomized control trial compared flexible assertive community treatment (FACT) to FACT combined with RGs. Individuals who were adults, diagnosed with an SMI, and scheduled for FACT for at least 12 months were included. Exclusion criteria included previous FACT over two years in duration. The primary outcome assessed was self-reported empowerment which was measured with the Netherlands Empowerment List. Additionally, quality of life, treatment satisfaction, psychopathological symptoms, adult attachment, social contact, employment, and family involvement were measured.

A total of 158 individuals were randomly allocated to either the FACT with RG (n=89) or FACT (n=78) group. Those in the FACT with RG treatment demonstrated clinically significant improvements in empowerment levels. Additionally, those in FACT with RG showed enhanced quality of life, personal recovery, as well as social and general functioning. Psychopathological symptoms, employment, attachment, and amount of social contact did not differ between groups. This study was limited in that there was a lack of non-SMI control group or blinding to treatment group. Nonetheless, the outcomes of this study suggest that RGs may help improve quality of life in those suffering from SMIs.

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