Current opinion in psychiatry vol:16 issue:4 pages:431-435
Purpose of review:
Expressed emotion refers to the amount of critical comments, hostility or emotional overinvolvement of a caregiver towards clients with severe and enduring psychiatric disorders. In family members, it is a well-established measure to assess the affective climate, and is a good and reliable predictor of patients' functioning. Expressed emotion research has recently been expanded towards formal relationships. This paper reviews the existing expressed emotion literature in relationships between professional caregivers and their clients.
The findings confirm that in professional caregivers, high expressed emotion attitudes can be present and that these attitudes can also have a significant influence on outcomes. Although professional caregivers; are not usually emotionally overinvolved, 'role confusion' does exist. The limited information concerning correlates with expressed emotion suggests that expressed emotion is related to the clients' level of functioning and with the amount of openness and internal attribution from the professionals' perspective. As for families, training intervention programmes for professionals were developed that aimed to lower the amount of expressed emotion.
Compared with the expressed emotion research in family relationships, this research line is still in its infancy. However, the expressed emotion construct seems to be very useful to chart the emotional climate between clients and professional caregivers. The future of the construct of expressed emotion in this field will probably depend upon the possibility of predicting the wellbeing, the functioning and the relapse of clients.