Background. Although high expressed emotion (EE) has been
found to be an important predictor
of poor prognosis in a wide range of conditions such as schizophrenia,
anorexia and depression no
complete explanation exists for individual differences in EE responses
The aim of this paper is to
investigate the role of intimacy in determining the level of EE in
carers of people with dementia.
Methods. Ninety-nine carers of people with dementia who presented
to Old Age Psychiatry Services
in South and Central Manchester completed questionnaires to ascertain
past and current levels of
intimacy. Camberwell Family Interviews (CFIs) were carried out to ascertain
levels of EE.
Results. Current intimacy was found to be strongly related
to EE such that low current intimacy was
associated with high EE and there was a significant difference between
high and low intimacy groups
on measures of criticism and hostility, though not warmth.
Conclusions. The association found between intimacy and EE
indicates that high EE may be a
characteristic of low intimacy relationships between the carer and
the cared-for-person. Since the
assessment of EE is time intensive, perhaps a measure of intimacy
will provide a short-hand screen
for identifying critical and hostile caring environments.