Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Relatives and friends group in a psychiatric ward.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 07 April 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:932
  1. D Goldmeier,
  2. D Hollander,
  3. M J Sheehan


    To enable relatives and friends of psychiatric patients in a 30-bed acute admission ward to meet the staff team together a relatives and friends group was initiated. The group was intended to provide a forum for questions about the patients' illness and treatment; allow feelings, such as anger and anxiety, about the patient's illness to be expressed; and enable relatives and friends to share their experiences and offer advice and support to each other. A study was designed to assess the feasibility of the group scheme. Relatives and friends were invited to the day room of the admission ward each Wednesday evening for one hour. The visitors chose their own topics for discussion and the staff team tried to answer questions and to facilitate a free exchange of views. An account of each meeting was documented, including details of attenders, the nature of the topics raised, and a simple measurement of some of the emotions expressed by the visitors. Overall, the effect of the meetings seemed positive and productive, for they allowed relatives and friends to ask questions about many topics, to express pent-up emotions, and to gain a better understanding and tolerance of the patient's illness. The relatives and friends group has become an integral part of treatment on the wards. Now that the feasibility of such a group is established, further studies are required to evaluate its efficacy.