University of Hertfordshire

Burnout in early course psychosis caregivers: the role of illness beliefs and coping styles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Juliana Onwumere
  • Lotey Gursharan
  • Joerg Schulz
  • Gareth James
  • Roya Afsharzadegan
  • Raythe Harvey
  • Lai Chu Man
  • Elizabeth Kuipers
  • David Raune
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-243
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Early online date26 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2017


In occupational settings, burnout is a common response to chronic exposure stressors and has been frequently documented in formal caregivers (i.e. paid psychiatric staff). However, the literature is limited on reports of burnout among informal caregivers and particularly within early psychosis groups. The current study sought to investigate reports of burnout in carers of young adults treated within a specialist early psychosis service and links with key appraisals reported about the illness and coping.

Seventy-two carers completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory along with self-report measures of coping styles and illness beliefs.

Seventy-eight per cent of carers reported high burnout in at least one of the three key burnout markers (i.e. emotional exhaustion, depersonalization or low personal accomplishment). Seven per cent of carers met full criteria for high burnout across all the three domains. A carer's belief about the negative consequences of the illness for themselves was a significant predictor of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Low personal accomplishment was linked to a carer's less optimistic beliefs about the illness timeline and fewer reports of adaptive coping.

The results provide preliminary support for the importance of asking carers in the early illness phase about their experiences of caregiving. Targeted assessment may serve as a helpful tool to identify and intervene with carers in need of additional support with stress management, use of adaptive coping strategies, and balanced recovery focused information about psychosis.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Juliana Onwumere et al, ‘Burnout in early course psychosis caregivers: the role ofillness beliefs and coping styles’, Early Intervention in Psychiatry, which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/eip.12227. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. © 2015 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd

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