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The Texas Medication Algorithm Project Patient and Family Education Program: A Consumer-Guided Initiative

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61:477-486

Educating patients with mental illness and their families about the illness and its treatment is essential to successful medication (disease) management. Specifically, education provides patients and families with the background they need to participate in treatment planning and implementation as full "partners" with clinicians. Thus, education increases the probability that appropriate and accurate treatment decisions will be made and that a treatment regimen will be followed. The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) has incorporated these concepts into its philosophy of care and accordingly created a Patient and Family Education Program (PFEP) to complement the utilization of medication algorithms for the treatment of schizophrenic, bipolar, and major depressive disorders. This article describes how a team of mental health consumers, advocates, and professionals developed and implemented the PFEP. In keeping with the TMAP philosophy of care, consumers were true partners in the program's development and implementation. They not only created several components of the program and incorporated the consumer perspective, but they also served as program trainers and advocates. Initially, PFEP provides basic and subsequently more in-depth information about the illness and its treatment, including such topics as symptom monitoring and management and self-advocacy with one's treatment team. It includes written, pictorial, videotaped, and other media used in a phased manner by clinicians and consumer educators, in either individual or group formats.