The first onset of psychosis can be a traumatic event for diagnosed individuals but can also impact negatively on their families. Little is known about how parents of the same child make sense of the illness. In mothers and fathers caring for the same child with early psychosis, the current study assessed their similarities and differences in key areas of their caregiving role.
Using a cross‐sectional design, parental pairs caring for the same child treated within an early intervention in psychosis service, completed self‐report measures on their caregiving experiences, illness beliefs, coping styles and affect.
Data from 44 mothers and fathers were analysed. Analyses confirmed that parents reported similar levels of emotional dysfunction and conceptualized the illness in broadly similar ways with regard to what they understood the illness to be, their emotional reactions to the illness, perceived illness consequences and beliefs about treatment. Significant differences were identified in their beliefs about the timeline of the illness and reported approaches to coping.
With exception of beliefs about illness timeline and an expressed preference for use of emotion‐based coping, parent caregivers of the same child in early psychosis services are likely to report similar illness beliefs and caregiving reactions. Efforts to ensure staff awareness of the potential areas of divergence in parental caregiving appraisals and exploring the implications of the divergence for the caregiving relationship and patient outcomes are indicated.