Enhancing Caregiver Support in First Episode Psychosis: Insights from the PEIPOD Study

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St Vincent’s Clinic Research Foundation recently funded a study titled “First Episode Psychosis in the Inner City: A Qualitative Study on Caregivers’ Experiences in an Early Intervention Program for Young People.” This research, led by Clinical Psychologist Dr Caroline Brown, focuses on understanding the experiences of caregivers involved in the Program for Early Intervention and Prevention of Disability (PEIPOD).

The primary objective of the PEIPOD study was to evaluate the service from the caregivers’ perspective, identifying successes and areas for potential improvement.  Additionally, the study aimed to explore caregivers’ needs, the types of support they find helpful, and potential formats for delivering this support.

The qualitative study involved semi-structured interviews with caregivers, providing detailed insights into their experiences.  Key themes from these interviews included concerns about access to PEIPOD services, continuity of care, and navigating the healthcare system.  Many caregivers expressed a need for better connection and communication with service providers.

A common sentiment among caregivers was feeling unprepared for their role, emphasising the need for education and training to understand their loved one’s illness and prepare for the challenges ahead.  They suggested that informational resources, peer support groups, and direct interaction with PEIPOD psychiatrists could significantly aid them.  Emotional support and encouragement to practice self-care were also highlighted.

The PEIPOD team, in collaboration with the psychology department at the Australian Catholic University (ACU), is discussing findings and planning future interventions.  This includes a pilot caregivers’ group and the preparation of a comprehensive literature review for publication, contributing to research on caregiver support in Australia.

The findings from this study will shape future clinical applications and interventions for caregivers within the PEIPOD program, aiming to enhance their wellbeing and improve patient outcomes.

Dr Caroline Brown emphasised the significance of this research, stating, “The role of caregivers in supporting the recovery of clients experiencing First Episode Psychosis (FEP) often goes unnoticed.  Understanding how to enhance their wellbeing journey is crucial.” She highlighted the pivotal role of the SVCRF grant in assembling a cohesive research team, enabling high-quality research that contributes significantly to improving clinical outcomes for psychosis patients at St Vincent’s Hospital.

The St Vincent’s Clinic Research Foundation is proud to have funded this study, providing valuable insights into caregivers’ needs and setting the stage for enhanced support systems that can make a real difference in the lives of young people experiencing psychosis and their families.

“The role of caregivers in supporting the recovery of clients experiencing First Episode Psychosis (FEP) often goes unnoticed.  Understanding how to enhance their wellbeing journey is crucial.” Dr Caroline Brown