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Effectiveness of a volunteer befriending programme for patients with schizophrenia – a randomised controlled trial

Priebe, S; Chevalier, A; Hamborg, T; Golden, E; King, M; Pistrang, N; (2019) Effectiveness of a volunteer befriending programme for patients with schizophrenia – a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry 10.1192/bjp.2019.42. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background Befriending by volunteers has the potential to reduce the frequent social isolation of patients with schizophrenia and thus improve health outcomes. However, trial-based evidence for its effectiveness is limited. Aims To conduct a randomised controlled trial of befriending for patients with schizophrenia or related disorders. Method Patients were randomised to a befriending programme for 1 year or to receive information about social activities only (trial registration: ISRCTN14021839). Outcomes were assessed masked to allocation at the end of the programme; at 12 months and at a 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome was daily time spent in activities (using the Time Use Survey (TUS)) with intention-to-treat analysis. Results A total of 124 patients were randomised (63 intervention, 61 active control) and 92 (74%) were followed up at 1 year. In the intervention group, 49 (78%) met a volunteer at least once and 31 (49%) had more than 12 meetings. At 1 year, mean TUS scores were more than three times higher in both groups with no significant difference between them (adjusted difference 8.9, 95% CI −40.7 to 58.5, P = 0.72). There were no significant differences in quality of life, symptoms or self-esteem. However, patients in the intervention group had significantly more social contacts than those in the control group at the end of the 12-month period. This difference held true at the follow-up 6 months later. Conclusions Although no difference was found on the primary outcome, the findings suggest that befriending may have a lasting effect on increasing social contacts. It may be used more widely to reduce the social isolation of patients with schizophrenia. Declaration of interest None.

Type: Article
Title: Effectiveness of a volunteer befriending programme for patients with schizophrenia – a randomised controlled trial
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2019.42
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2019.42
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright and usage © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2019. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: social isolation, volunteering, psychosis, social contacts
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067519
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