The aim of this study was to examine the association of family functioning to psychiatric disorders of adoptees with and without genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia.
The data is based on the Finnish Adoptive Family Study of Schizophrenia. The study sample consisted of 346 adoptive families, of which 175 adoptees had high (HR) and 171 low (LR) genetic risk for schizophrenia. DSM-III-R was used for diagnostic criteria. Family functioning was assessed using the Global Family Ratings. Childhood adversities covered early parental divorce and death occurring before 18 years of age of the adoptees.
Approximately two thirds of the adoptees had lived in families with mildly dysfunctional processes (30%) or dysfunctional processes (28.4%). An increased likelihood for psychiatric disorders of the adoptees was related to dysfunctional family processes both in HR (OR?=?4.8, 95% CI 2-11.4) and LR (OR?=?2.6, 95% CI 1.1-6.3) adoptees, but not to early parental death or divorce.
The risk for psychiatric disorders was increased for adoptees in families with dysfunctional processes, especially for those adoptees with genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia. These results emphasize the importance of policies and practices that aim to strengthen and support family functioning.