Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The purpose of this research project was to examine the needs and supports of family members of people with schizophrenia and to determine the relationship between needs, supports, objective burden, negative affect, and positive affect. The participants were 32 family members of a self-help and support group catering to the families of people with schizophrenia. Three categories of needs and supports were examined. These three categories included: problem-solving, financial and tangible assistance, and social-emotional needs and supports. Family members discussed: the degree of need and support, who currently meets the need, issues and concerns, and suggestions about who might best meet the needs and how. Family members experienced greater need than support across all three categories. Family members themselves and the community self-help and support group were key resources. Issues and concerns focused on the aspects of need that must be addressed in order for programs and policies to be successful. Suggestions about who might best meet the need and how revealed that family members have a clear understanding of existing problems and have clear solutions about how to address their needs. Another aspect of the action-oriented strategies of this study was a discussion of other themes. These themes were not directly related to specific needs but to groups of needs. Again, clear and practical suggestions were made about how to address these issues at a community level. Theoretical questions examined the relationship between needs and supports, on the one hand, and affect and stress on the other hand. Positive and negative affect were independent of each other. Negative affect was directly related to the level of financial and tangible assistance needs. Social-emotional support was directly related to positive affect and inversely related to negative affect. There was no evidence that needs and supports interacted to predict objective burden, positive affect, or negative affect consistent with the stress-buffering hypothesis. The implications for future research center on attempting to provide an optimal “fit” between need and support in community-based agencies. Existing programs should be evaluated to determine if programs meet the needs of those who make use of the programs. If supports are in place, stress can be reduced. Programs should provide support as a part of service delivery. Researchers should focus on making use of mental health users and family members to elicit their ideas about program design, implementation and methods for providing support.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season