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Burden of Caregivers of Patients With Bipolar Affective Disorders


  • The research on which this article is based was recognized with the Young Scientist Research Prize in Bipolar Disorders 2007–2008 sponsored by Lilly Deutschland GmbH. The authors thank Thomas Schlaepfer of the University of Bonn for his assistance in this work.

concerning this article should be addressed to Rita Bauer, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Regensburg, 93042 Regensburg, Germany. Electronic mail may be sent to


Thirty-two problem-oriented interviews with caregivers of patients with bipolar affective disorders were analyzed using content analysis. The 722 statements of caregivers about their experiences of subjective burden because of the illness of their family members were summarized in 49 global statements and correlated by factor analysis to 10 types of burden. In particular, patients’ noncompliance as well as the helplessness of the caregivers in interaction with the (changing) depressive and manic symptoms of the ill family members emerged as serious burdens on the caregivers. Whereas female caregivers suffered more from problems regarding quality of relationship with the patient, male caregivers experienced more constraints on their own autonomy, uncertainty concerning their judgment of patients’ capacity, and uncertainty because of the changing symptoms of illness. The findings of this study highlight that an appreciation of caregivers’ own consternation and information about how best to handle the (uncooperative) behavior of the patient should be taken into account in psychoeducational groups as well as in the daily work routine of professionals.

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