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'Between a rock and a hard place': family members' experiences of supporting a relative with bipolar disorder

Baruch, E; Pistrang, N; Barker, C; (2018) 'Between a rock and a hard place': family members' experiences of supporting a relative with bipolar disorder. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology , 53 (10) pp. 1123-1131. 10.1007/s00127-018-1560-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Purpose: Clinical guidelines emphasise the central role of family members in supporting people with bipolar disorder. However, there has been little focus on the challenges family members face in supporting their relative. This qualitative study explored the challenges of providing support to a relative with bipolar disorder, and how family members attempted to meet these challenges. Factors that helped or hindered their efforts were also explored, including experiences of professional support. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 family members (partners, parents, adult children, and siblings). Transcripts were analysed using the Framework approach. Results: Participants faced numerous challenges pertaining to the nature of the disorder and specific illness phases, their relative’s responses to their attempts to help, and the limitations of support from healthcare professionals. Although participants were resourceful in managing these challenges, they strongly valued professional input. Six themes were identified: ‘Not knowing: like being in a minefield’, ‘It’s out of my control: sitting waiting for the next thing to happen’, ‘Treading on eggshells’, ‘Picking up on signs’, ‘Times of crisis: between a rock and a hard place’, and ‘I have to make my voice heard’. Conclusions: Family members supporting a relative with bipolar disorder face significant challenges but show considerable resourcefulness in managing them. The findings underline the importance of input from healthcare professionals to help family members effectively support their relative and manage the challenges they face. Professional support should be strengths-based, and tailored to family members’ needs.

Type: Article
Title: 'Between a rock and a hard place': family members' experiences of supporting a relative with bipolar disorder
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00127-018-1560-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-018-1560-8
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder, Qualitative Carers, Family members
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052172
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