J. Jomy, E. Gardizi, E. Cole, J. Fowler
Caregivers play a critical role in supporting persons with psychosis; however, they are at high risk for experiencing psychological distress. Most studies have focused on the impact of caregiving in chronic patient samples, while overlooking burden earlier in the course of illness. The purpose of the current study was to: (1) examine the rate of caregiver burden in carers of first episode psychosis patients and to compare the results to chronic cases and (2) examine patient characteristics that are predictive of caregiver burden in first episode psychosis.
Data from 44 caregivers enrolled in the Cleghorn Early Intervention Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton was used. Caregiver burden was measured using the Experience of Caregiving Inventory (ECI). Descriptive statistics were used to examine rates of caregiver burden while multiple linear regression was used to examine the influence of patient characteristics (age, symptom severity, disability, and insight) on burden. The mean ECI score for our sample was 94.2 (SD = 36.1), which was higher than scores reported in caregivers of patients with chronic disorders. The regression model was significant F (4, 35) = 3.78, p < .10 and yielded an R2 value of .301. Greater symptom severity and poorer insight were associated with caregiver distress. First episode psychosis represents the initial stage of illness when symptoms may be most pronounced and individuals may not have been treated from a prolonged time. Insight may also be limited, partly due to lack of knowledge regarding psychosis. The results of this study speak to the importance early intervention in ensuring that individuals and families are offered treatment and psychoeducation as soon as possible.