Effect of digital psychoeducation and peer support on the mental health of family carers supporting individuals with psychosis in England (COPe-support): a randomised clinical trial
Sin J, Henderson C, Elkes J, Cornelius V, Woodham LA, Batchelor R, Chen T, Corredor AM, Coughlan D, Dhital R, Evans S, Haider B, Heathcote J, Mansfield S, O’Brien A, Qassim M, Sserunkuma J, Travis CH, Williams E & Gillard S. (2022). Effect of digital psychoeducation and peer support on the mental health of family carers supporting individuals with psychosis in England (COPe-support): a randomised clinical trial. The Lancet (British Edition), 4(5), e320–e329. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(22)00031-0
Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of a web-based multicomponent intervention (COPe-support) for improving the mental health and caregiving outcomes of caregivers of individuals with serious mental illness. A randomized two-arm trial was conducted to compare the COPe-support intervention to a passive control condition (an online information resource). Participants were adult relatives and close friends who provided at least weekly support in any format for persons with psychosis. Four hundred and seven participants were recruited from 30 mental health provider organizations across England. The COPe-support intervention included features addressing psychoeducation about psychosis and treatment, caregiving issues, wellbeing promotion, expert and peer support forums, and relevant external resources. Participants in the treatment group downloaded the free app and had access for 40 weeks. Participants were recommended to use the app for at least 30 minutes weekly. Participants completed self-reported assessments of psychological wellbeing, quality of life, caregiving experience and support at baseline, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, and 40 weeks. The results found no difference in mental wellbeing between the COPe-support group and the control group at 20 weeks follow-up. Participants who reported higher use of COPe-support reported a greater effect in improved mental well-being, but this difference was not statistically significant. The results were similar at the 40 weeks follow-up as well. Overall, the COPe-support for caregivers supporting an individual with psychosis was not superior to an information resource at 20 weeks. Considering the projected increase in the caregiver population and demand for support, a digital intervention targeting psychological support for caregivers such as COPe-support is valuable. Research to demonstrate the efficacy of digital interventions to support caregivers of individuals with serious mental illness is needed.