Background: In recent years, there has been a gradual shift towards the study of individual symptom presentations in psychosis, this is particularly found in studies of delusional beliefs. However, the literature remains sparse on informal caregiver experiences of individual symptoms.
Aim: The study sought to investigate carer experiences of supporting a relative with delusional beliefs, which involve family members.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with five caregivers and subject to interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Results: Interviews yielded six superordinate themes highlighting issues concerning a carer's exposure to symptoms of illness; lack of understanding about their relatives' delusional beliefs; concerns over coming to harm from their relative: efforts made by the carer to conceal their relative's delusional beliefs and their consequences; fractured relationships, and a long process of learning how to best cope.
Conclusion: Caring for a relative with psychosis who experiences delusional beliefs about the carer and family members can be challenging. The results underscore the importance of providing a programme of support to meet the varied needs of informal carers with an explicit aim of assisting carers in their day-to-day problem solving. It should also help to address issues carers may have about causality, including beliefs about self-blame, and identifying effective coping strategies.