Characteristics and motivations of volunteers providing one-to-one support for people with mental illness: a survey in Austria.
841 - 847
Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
MetadataShow full item record
PURPOSE: Large numbers of volunteers provide one-to-one support for people with mental illness, sometimes referred to as befriending. However, there has been very little research on their characteristics and motivations. This study aimed to assess the personal characteristics and motivations of such volunteers across different regions in Austria. METHODS: Questionnaires assessing characteristics and motivations were distributed to 663 volunteers providing befriending for people with mental illness within volunteering programmes organised in four Austrian regions. RESULTS: Questionnaires were completed and returned by 360 out of 663 approached volunteers (response rate 54%). Whilst most socio-demographic characteristics were widely distributed, 78% were female; 42% reported to have a family member and 56% a friend with a mental illness. Most volunteers cited motivations to do something both for others (e.g. "feel a responsibility to help others") and for themselves (e.g. "enhance my awareness of mental health issues"). When the total group was divided into four subgroups in a cluster analysis based on their socio-demographic characteristics, a subgroup of female, single and younger volunteers in full-time employment expressed motivations to achieve something for themselves significantly more often than other subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: The study provides the largest sample of volunteers in befriending programmes for people with mental illness in the research literature to date. The findings suggest that people with different characteristics can be recruited to volunteer for befriending programmes. Recruitment strategies and supervision arrangements should consider motivations both to help others and to achieve something for themselves, and may be varied for specific volunteer subgroups.
AuthorsKlug, G; Toner, S; Fabisch, K; Priebe, S
- Centre for Psychiatry