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Expressed emotion and perceived family interaction in the key relatives of elderly patients with dementia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2009

Jim Orford*
Department of Clinical Psychology, Exeter Health Authority, Department of Psychology, University of Exeter
Paul O'Reilly
Department of Clinical Psychology, Exeter Health Authority, Department of Psychology, University of Exeter
Arnold Goonatilleke
Department of Clinical Psychology, Exeter Health Authority, Department of Psychology, University of Exeter
1Address for correspondence: Dr J. Orford, Department of Clinical Psychology, Exeter Health Authority, Larkby, Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NU.


Four groups of families were investigated using an interview designed to assess expressed emotion (EE) in relatives of psychiatric patients and a family interaction questionnaire (FIQ) based upon the Leary and Benjamin schemes for coding interpersonal behaviour. The families included 25 containing a psychiatric patient aged between 18 and 46, and three groups of 12 families each, all containing a patient over 60 (patients with dementia, a functional psychiatric disorder, or a chronic physical disorder respectively). In all cases data were obtained from key relatives.

The FIQ clearly separated out the group of dementia relatives who reported the most dominant and protective behaviours and the highest levels of hostile-dominance and the lowest levels of affection. EE was not found to be so sensitive to interactions occurring in families with a member with dementia, and the possible reasons for this are discussed.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1987

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