BACKGROUND We examined: care-giving activities in a population-based sample of carers of sufferers from psychotic disorders; putative determinants of care-giving; and changes in care-giving in an intensive community psychiatric service.
METHODS In the PRiSM interview sample 170 people had a carer; 124 were interviewed. Care-giving activities, dissatisfaction with these, and carers' General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) scores were measured. Patient and illness characteristics were examined as predictors of the carer measures. The carer measures were reassessed for 62 carers after two years in two service sectors, one with an intensive community service, the other with a standard service.
RESULTS Overall, 36% of carers were engaged in no, or only occasional care-giving activities. Fifty per cent expressed no dissatisfaction with their care-giving role. Patient and illness characteristics predicted care-giving poorly. Carers in the intensive community treatment sector did not experience significantly different care-giving demands or distress than those in the standard sector.
CONCLUSIONS A significant proportion of carers of sufferers from psychosis do not engage in common care-giving activities, and are not dissatisfied with their role. An intensive community service did not affect the impact of the illness on carers.