Why the caregivers of bipolar patients need to be in constant touch with a physician: A qualitative study of text messages from patient caregivers to a physician
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M.D. Assistant professor of psychiatry, Mental Health Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
MA. Clinical psychology, Rajaee hospital, Tehran, Iran
MA. Clinical psychology, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran
Publish date: 2018-11-18
Electron J Gen Med 2018;15(6):em88
The variety of caregiver’s needs of bipolar patients signifies the importance of performing dedicated interventions to help this group of caregivers based on the cultural conditions of the country in which they live; the present study therefore seeks to address this issue through a different method.

The families of 28 patients with bipolar disorder type 1 who were treated for at least two months by a single psychiatrist gradually entered the study over a six-month period. They received the phone number of the psychiatrist in attendance as soon as the patient was in remission according to the same psychiatrist’s interview. A total of 1908 texts were sent and received and each family sent an average of 68.14 text messages during the three years, with the minimum being 40 and the maximum 83. All the text messages were transcribed verbatim and were evaluated by three faculty members through the qualitative content analysis method.

In this study we found three themes and there were some codes in each theme. 1. The first theme was “Training” which the caregivers requested advice about symptoms and tests, the course of the disease, assurance, medication side-effects and their management, how to stop smoking, how to control high-risk behaviors and double checking appointments with the physician, making for a total of 1079 text messages received. 2. The second theme was “Reporting” which contained a description of emergency symptoms and requesting advice, reporting response or no response to the medications, reporting medication adherence and dosage taken. 3. The third theme: “The expression of feelings” including the expression of gratitude, saying congratulations on national and other celebrations and expressing anger and hatred.

Overall, the caregivers of patients with bipolar disorder have many needs; meeting these needs affects the patients’ outcome and the caregivers, but requires a greater attention by the healthcare team and it is necessary for these needs to be evaluated in the context of each distinct country.

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