Researchers at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are working to identify the most effective ways to assist those who support a relative with bipolar disorder.
The study, which is being conducted by staff at the university’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing Research (IHWR), will assess a self-care pack designed to enhance the health and well-being of informal carers of relatives with the condition.
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, affects a person's mood, which can swing from one extreme to another and can occur at any age.
Research student Lee Boag is leading the study and aims to enlist community support to trial the questionnaire and activities he has designed with his colleagues.
He said: “Bipolar disorder is relatively common with around one person in one hundred diagnosed with the condition and relatively little is known about how providing care affects the family of those with the condition.
“By trialling the activities and understanding how helpful they are, we can ensure that those in the same position receive the support which is most beneficial for them.”
Mr Boag’s team will pilot the support pack with relative carers across Scotland. It has four components, all of which are thought to help people in different ways, consisting of psycho-education, behaviour therapy as well as social and mental health awareness skills.
The purpose of the research is to identify who reacts best to the different activities and also to assess user feedback such as ease of use, accessibility, meaningfulness and perceived benefit.
Before they start the activities, participants will be given a booklet of questions to help researchers determine what their circumstances are like at the moment.
Once complete, those who take part will receive the self-care pack to work through at their own pace over a period of four months.
A follow-up questionnaire will then ask the same questions as before to see what has changed. Participants will also be asked to give their opinion on any changes, how they felt about the activities and what they liked and disliked about them.
Mr Boag said: “The support pack is not meant to replace any treatments or help anyone may be receiving. However, the results will help us better understand the situation of providing care to a family member with bipolar disorder.
“Changes in how people feel and respond to questions before and after trying the activities will allow us to understand which methods of helping people are useful and who they are useful for. The research will provide information to make sure that care givers are offered the best possible support in the most effective way.”