Influence of carer expressed emotion and affect on relapse in non-affective psychosis

E. Kuipers, P. E. Bebbington, G. Dunn, D. G. Fowler, D. Freeman, P. Watson, A. Hardy, P. Garety

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Background: High expressed emotion in carers predicts relapse in psychosis, but it is not known why this is so. In our cognitive model of psychosis, we postulated that the effect is mediated through affective changes.

Aims: To investigate the relationships between carer expressed emotion, patients' symptoms and carer characteristics during a recent relapse of psychosis.

Method: A total of 86 patients and carers were investigated in a cross-sectional design.

Results: Patients whose carers showed high expressed emotion had significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression, but not more psychotic symptoms or lower self-esteem. Linear regression showed that carers' critical comments predicted anxiety in patients. Critical comments were related to low carer self-esteem and avoidant coping strategies. Low carer self-esteem was also related to carer depression, stress and carer ‘burden’, and to low patient self-esteem.

Conclusions: Our hypothesis was partially supported. Carer criticism was associated with patient anxiety, low carer self-esteem and poor carer coping strategies. Family interventions should focus on improving these after a relapse of symptoms of psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

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