PURPOSE: Limited data are available on the difficulties experienced over time by caregivers of patients with eating disorders (CPED). The aim of this study was to describe changes in anxiety and depression among such caregivers over 1 year and to identify factors predicting any change in both.
METHODS: At recruitment, 145 ED patients and their 246 caregivers completed sociodemographic and clinical instruments, including the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS), and the Short-Form 12 (SF-12). Patients also completed the Eating Attitudes Test-26 (EAT-26), and their psychiatrists assessed clinical variables. Patients and caregivers completed the same instruments 1 year later.
RESULTS: At baseline, prevalence of anxiety and depression among caregivers was 56 and 32%, respectively. Scores were essentially the same 1 year later. Factors associated with the changes in anxiety were higher anxiety level at baseline and caring for a patient with a restrictive ED. Factors associated with changes in depression included higher depression at baseline and caring for a patient with a restrictive ED. Neither health-related quality of life among patients and caregivers nor patients' eating attitudes was related to caregiver anxiety or depression.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm the presence of substantial and continuing emotional distress among caregivers of patients with ED, highlighting the importance of offering them more extended follow-up and treatment.