Effectiveness of guided self-help in decreasing expressed emotion in family caregivers of people diagnosed with depression in Thailand: A randomised controlled trial

Terence V. McCann, Wallapa Songprakun, John Stephenson

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Background: High expressed emotion (EE) can extend the duration of illness and precipitate relapse; however, little evidence-based information is available to assist family caregivers of individuals with depression. In the present exploratory study, we examined the effectiveness of a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) based guided self-help (GSH) manual in decreasing EE in caregivers of people with depression, in Thailand. Method: A parallel group randomised controlled trial was conducted, following CONSORT guidelines, with 54 caregivers who were allocated equally to GSH or control group (standard outpatient department support). In addition, both groups were contacted weekly by telephone. EE was assessed, using the Family Questionnaire (FQ), at baseline, post-test (Week 8) and follow-up (Week 12). Results: FQ scores at baseline indicated that both groups had similar, though moderately high level of EE. However, between baseline and post-test EE scores decreased markedly in the intervention group, but in contrast, they increased slightly in the control group. Between post-test and follow-up, little change took place in the EE scores of either group. Overall, the intervention group recipients of GSH showed a significant decrease in EE whereas the control group recipients of standard outpatient department support reported a slight increase in EE. Conclusion: These findings provide preliminary evidence that GSH is beneficial in reducing EE in caregivers, which is advantageous to family members with depression and caregivers. The approach may be used as an adjunct to the limited outpatient department support given to caregivers by mental health professionals and, perhaps, to caregivers who do not attend these departments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number258
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015


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