We Can: A web-based skills package for carers of people with ANv1.0

Study ID: 32843
Short Title: We Can
Organisation: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Location: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Condition: Eating disorders
Main Specialty: Mental Health
Expected End Date: 31/03/2018
Postcode: SO30 3JB
Contact Name: SHFT Research
Contact Email: research@southernhealth.nhs.uk
Active: Yes

Inclusion Criteria


• Carers (up to 2) of adults with anorexia nervosa. The definition of ‘carer’ used is that of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers (UK Charity) (www.carers.org) and includes partners, siblings and other relatives or friends who provide unpaid help and support.

• Fluency in English Participants with anorexia nervosa

• Participants must have either a current diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (AN), of either restricting or binge-eating/purging subtype OR have previously been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, while currently meeting the criteria for a different eating disorder (for example, Other specified feeding or eating disorder). This is to ensure that participants who may no longer meet all of the diagnostic criteria for AN (for example, those who have been weight-restored through treatment, but still experience the cognitions prevalent in anorexia nervosa), are included within the study.

• Participants must be a minimum of 16 years of age when their carers begin the study.

• Fluent in English

Exclusion Criteria


• Caring for a person with an eating disorder other than AN (e.g. normal weight bulimia nervosa) who has never been diagnosed with AN

• Current eating disorder in the carer

• Inability of the carer to read and understand English Participants with anorexia nervosa

• Participants who have never received a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.

• Currently dependent on drugs or alcohol

• Diagnosed with a current major psychological disorder, which would interfere with the participants ability to complete the relevant questionnaires (for example, psychosis, or severe suicidal depression).

• Under the age of 16.

Study summary:

Carers of people with anorexia nervosa play an important role in recovery, but often feel ill equipped to effectively support their loved one. Especially for carers of individuals above the age of 18 there is often little support available. This lack of knowledge and skills, potentially leads to problematic carer behaviours, such as high levels of expressed emotion or accommodation to the illness, which may worsen or maintain the illness. It also takes a toll on carers’ own mental health. Therefore, there is a need for interventions that support carers in their role. We have developed and evaluated We Can, a web-based skills training programme developed for carers of people with AN. It is based on a systemic cognitive behavioural approach and it is the first web-based intervention for carers of sufferers with anorexia nervosa. It specifically targets unhelpful carer behaviours and attitudes and also addresses carers’ own needs. In two previous randomised controlled trials, We Can significantly reduced carer intrusiveness, negative experiences of caregiving and the impact of starvation and guilt. In addition, decreases of perceived intrusiveness of the carer by the individual with AN were associated with a large effect size. This study aims to investigate a) the efficacy of a web-based skills package (We Can) to support carers of individuals with anorexia nervosa and b) look at how different levels of support with the intervention may affect the results.

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