The development and evaluation of a self-care intervention for informal caregivers of relatives with bipolar disorder.
Boag, Lee Steven
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BOAG, L.S. 2016. The development and evaluation of a self-care intervention for informal caregivers of relatives with bipolar disorder. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
Background: Informal caregivers provide unpaid support to a family member, which has been shown to more positively affect their relatives’ health outcomes than equivalent paid caregivers. The provision of this support, however, comes at a cost to the carers’ health and wellbeing through meeting the demands of the caring role. Efforts have been made to alleviate these consequences through various forms of interventions aimed to enable the carers to meet these demands. The reported success of these interventions is varied in regards to their effectiveness; an argument supported by literature review papers on the subject that questions the methodologies and evaluations of these interventions. Rationale: There is a need to explore the ways to enhance the health and wellbeing of informal carers by means of a robust design and evaluation. This thesis reports a study, the aim of which is to provide information about how to reduce the negative effects of the carer role whilst enhancing the positive effects using an intervention developed using lived experience. Method: The self-care intervention was developed and piloted with those caring for a relative with bipolar disorder. This was achieved in three stages: (i) qualitative interviews with carers to explore and understand the role, (ii) developing the intervention informed by qualitative findings, and finally by (iii) piloting the intervention. Effectiveness of the intervention was determined using health and wellbeing outcomes, the results of which were compared to a control group who did not take part in the intervention. Results: A positive potential for psychoeducational, cognitive behavioural and mindfulness techniques in enhancing the health and wellbeing of those caring for a relative diagnosed with bipolar disorder was found. From the exploration of lived experience, “Being Bound” was elicited from the data representing the conflict between the detrimental effects of providing care and being unable to take respite or reprieve through guilt and anxiety. Conclusion: Professionals who work with family members, individually or as part of a family unit, should consider the benefits of targeted information for carers. Provision of information is not enough to engage the carer in the process of understanding their relative’s behaviours, but requires a process of interaction and personalisation. In contributing to existing research, the use of hermeneutic phenomenology provided new insight in to the experiences of those providing care. The outcome of the intervention pilot shows positive potential for the use of interventions beyond psychoeducation alone and the use of a self-care approach.