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Multifamily psychoeducation for improvement of mental health among relatives of patients with major depressive disorder lasting more than one year: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Fujika Katsuki1*, Hiroshi Takeuchi2, Norio Watanabe3, Nao Shiraishi2, Tohru Maeda4, Yosuke Kubota2, Masako Suzuki2, Atsurou Yamada2 and Tatsuo Akechi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Nagoya City University School of Nursing, 1 Kawasumi, Mizuho-cho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 4678601, Japan

2 Department of Psychiatry and Cognitive-Behavioral Medicine, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 1 Kawasumi, Mizuho-cho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 4678601, Japan

3 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Translational Medical Center, National Center of Neurology & Psychiatry, 4-1-1 Ogawa-higashi, Kodaira, Tokyo 1870031, Japan

4 School of Pharmacy, Kinjo Gakuin University, 2-1723 Omori Moriyama-ku, Nagoya 4638521, Japan

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Trials 2014, 15:320  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-320

Published: 12 August 2014



Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a long-lasting disorder with frequent relapses that have significant effects on the patient’s family. Family psychoeducation is recognized as part of the optimal treatment for patients with psychotic disorder. A previous randomized controlled trial has found that family psychoeducation is effective in enhancing the treatment of MDD. Although MDD can easily become a chronic illness, there has been no intervention study on the families of patients with chronic depression. In the present study, we design a randomized controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of family psychoeducation in improving the mental health of relatives of patients with MDD lasting more than one year.


Participants are patients with MDD lasting more than one year and their relatives. Individually randomized, parallel-group trial design will be employed. Participants will be allocated to one of two treatment conditions: relatives will receive (a) family psychoeducation (four, two-hour biweekly multifamily psychoeducation sessions) plus treatment-as-usual for the patient (consultation by physicians), or (b) counseling for the family (one counseling session from a nurse) plus treatment-as-usual for the patient. The primary outcome measure will be relatives’ mental health as measured by K6 that was developed to screen for DSM-IV depressive and anxiety disorder. Additionally, the severity of depressive symptoms in patients measured by the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II) scale will be assessed. Data from the intention-to-treat sample will be analyzed 16 weeks after randomization.


This is the first study to evaluate the effectiveness of family psychoeducation for relatives of patients with MDD lasting more than one year. If this type of intervention is effective, it could be a new method of rehabilitation for patients with MDD lasting more than one year.

Trial registration

Clinical NCT01734291 (registration date: 18 October 2012).

Major depressive disorder; Family psychoeducation; Randomized controlled trial