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Informing the development of the Coaching Online and Community Health (COACH) program: a qualitative study of clubhouse members living with serious mental illness

O’Neill K, Hand R, Diop B, Weiss H, Cruz Pfaeffle A, Maragatham P, Rice K, Naslund JA. Informing the development of the coaching online and community health (COACH) program: a qualitative study of clubhouse members living with serious mental illness. Transl Behav Med. 2023 May 13;13(5):343-353. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibad001.

Clubhouse organizations for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) are structured psychosocial rehabilitation communities, some of which have developed virtual service platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative study explored clubhouse members’ experiences engaging with a virtual clubhouse platform during the COVID-19 pandemic; preferences for interest in and access to digital health content was assessed, as well as suggestions for an online peer lifestyle intervention. The study was guided by a community-based participatory action research framework. Ten focus groups were conducted with 33 clubhouse members (ages 28 to 69 years old, 54.3% women). Participants expressed mixed views about use of the virtual clubhouse platform (delivered over Zoom), with some finding that meeting virtually was better for social anxiety, while others reporting it challenging to interact online and pick up on social cues. The virtual platform offered new opportunities to reach individuals with SMI during the pandemic, but participants noted the importance of having staff to help them get online and navigate the virtual platform. Focus group members highlighted that compatibility with the person facilitating the intervention content was necessary for engagement. Another reported motivation for engagement was participation in health and wellness activities that bring joy and access to community resources and involvement. Recommendations from this study will inform a future adaptation of an intervention, called Group Lifestyle Balance, to suit the needs of clubhouse members.