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The experience of caregiving for severe mental illness: a comparison between anorexia nervosa and psychosis

  • J. Treasure
  • T. Murphy
  • T. Szmukler
  • G. Todd
  • K. Gavan
  • J. Joyce
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to examine the experience of care giving for people with anorexia nervosa and to compare it with the experiences of those people who care for a person with a psychotic illness. Method: Carers (parents, siblings and husbands) of people with eating disorders who had experienced an episode of inpatient care for anorexia nervosa (n=71) were given the General Health Questionnaire and the Experience of Caregiving Inventory. A sample of carers (N=68) of people with a psychotic illness from the community were used as a comparison group. A subgroup of the carers (n=20) of people with anorexia nervosa were asked to write about their experiences. Results: The clinical samples had a similar duration of illness, but the patients with anorexia nervosa were significantly younger and a larger proportion were living at home. The general health scores were significantly higher in the carers of anorexia nervosa and they experienced higher levels of difficulties in most areas of caregiving. A variety of variables from the Caregiving Inventory contributed to the level of psychological distress, accounting for 36 % of the variance. The themes of guilt and shame were additional dimensions that were addressed in the letters. Conclusions: Carers of people with anorexia nervosa are challenged by the difficulties their role produces.

Keywords

Mental Illness Comparison Group Psychological Distress General Health Clinical Sample 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Treasure
    • 1
  • T. Murphy
    • 1
  • T. Szmukler
    • 2
  • G. Todd
    • 3
  • K. Gavan
    • 3
  • J. Joyce
    • 4
  1. 1.Eating Disorders Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UKGB
  2. 2.South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, London, UKGB
  3. 3.Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham, Kent, UKGB
  4. 4.PriSM, Department of Community Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UKGB

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