First-Time Primary Caregivers’ Experience of Caring for Young Adults With First-Episode Psychosis

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McCann, Terence, Lubman, Dan and Clark, Eileen (2011) First-Time Primary Caregivers’ Experience of Caring for Young Adults With First-Episode Psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 37 (2). pp. 381-388. ISSN 0586-7614 (print) 1745-1701 (online)


Becoming a carer is associated with physical, emotional, and financial hardship, with caregivers often experiencing a maelstrom of emotions as they struggle to understand what has happened to their loved one. While the burden of caring for young people with first-episode psychosis (FEP) has been well documented, much less is known about how carers develop the strength and resilience to continue caring. This qualitative study aimed to understand the experience of 20 first-time primary caregivers of young adults with FEP. Most caregivers were female (85%, n = 17) and parents (85%, n = 17). The average length of involvement as a caregiver at an FEP service was 14.5 months. Six main themes were identified in the data, highlighting the carers’ experience in supporting young adults with FEP. Caregiving is a burdensome responsibility and is characterized as a roller coaster and unpredictable experience. Caregivers often feel responsible for the young person's illness; however, eventually most come to terms with the changes that have occurred in the young person with FEP. As a consequence of the illness, the relationship between caregiver and care recipient frequently becomes closer and deeper, although it is important that they both maintain hope for the future. These findings provide important insights into the experiences of first-time caregivers of young people with FEP, with direct implications for improving the information and support given to caregivers by FEP services, as well as the development of interventions that effectively address the unique challenges caregivers face following the onset of FEP.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1093/schbul/sbp085
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Historical > FOR Classification > 1110 Nursing
Historical > SEO Classification > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health)
Keywords ResPubID23164, ResPubID19232, experience, first-episode psychosis, hope, interpretative phenomenological analysis, primary caregivers, qualitative
Citations in Scopus 102 - View on Scopus
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