Methods: This quasi-experimental study evaluated the effectiveness of a workshop (Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster) in increasing caregiver knowledge, attitudes and skills and reducing caregiver burden. Participants were recruited through emails, virtual flyers, and direct mailings and were assessed for eligibility by staff at MHP. 217 participants in the workshop and 53 participants on a waitlist were asked to complete a pre- and post-questionnaires, which included the Self-Assessment of Attitudes, Knowledge, and Skills (SSAKS) an adapted measure and Burden Assessment Scale (BAS), a psychometrically sound measure. Data were compared using t-tests and ANCOVAs.
Results: The results showed a significantly greater improvement in attitudes, knowledge, and skills (t= 3.42, p=.001) and greater reduction in caregiver burden (F= 12.25, p=.001) for the workshop participants than those on the waitlist, while controlling for differences in pre-test scores.
Conclusions: These results indicate that the intervention shows great promise for family members who are struggling to provide support for a loved one with BPD, bipolar, and/or major depression. Increasing caregiver skills and decreasing burden help family members better assist loved ones with their recovery and prevent some of the devastating effects of these disorders, such as self-harm, anger problems and high utilization of emergency services that too often precipitate negative reactions toward this population from society and providers, including social workers. Such interventions have the potential of reducing financial costs to families and society in reducing hospitalizations, crisis care and discriminatory practices towards those with these symptoms and their family caregivers.