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First-episode psychosis (FEP) is a major life event and can have an adverse impact on the diagnosed individual and their families. The importance of intervening early and providing optimal treatments is widely acknowledged. In comparison to patient groups, literature is scarce on identifying treatment predictors and moderators of caregiver outcomes. This study aimed to identify pre-treatment characteristics predicting and/or moderating carer outcomes, based on data from a multi-element psychosocial intervention to FEP patients and carers (GET-UP PIANO trial).
Carer demography, type of family relationship, patient contact hours, pre-treatment carer burden, patient perceptions of parental caregiving and expressed emotion (EE) were selected, a priori, as potential predictors/moderators of carer burden and emotional distress at 9 months post treatment. Outcomes were analysed separately in mixed-effects random regression models.
Analyses were performed on 260 carers. Only patient perceptions of early maternal criticism predicted reports of lower carer burden at follow-up. However, multiple imputation analysis failed to confirm this result. For treatment moderators: higher levels of carer burden at baseline yielded greater reductions in carer emotional distress at follow-up in the experimental group compared with treatment as usual (TAU). Higher levels of perceived EE moderated greater reductions in carer reports of tension in experimental group, compared with TAU, at follow-up. In younger caregivers (<51 years old), there were greater reductions in levels of worry during the baseline to follow-up period, within the experimental group compared with TAU.
The study failed to identify significant treatment predictors of FEP carer outcomes. However, our preliminary findings suggest that optimal treatment outcomes for carers at first episode might be moderated by younger carer age, and carers reporting higher baseline levels of burden, and where patients perceive higher levels of negative effect from caregivers.
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