How would patients with psychosis like to be in contact with a volunteer: Face-to-face or digitally?
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INTRODUCTION: Volunteer befriending can be used to address social isolation in patients with psychosis. Traditionally this involves face-to-face encounters between a volunteer and a patient, but modern digital technology also makes it possible to have these interactions remotely. This study aimed to explore the views and interests of patients with psychosis about different formats of volunteering, face-to-face or digitally. METHODS: A survey was conducted with patients with psychotic disorders in community mental health teams in London. Questions covered socio-demographic characteristics, quality of life, loneliness, views on the different formats of volunteering and types of volunteers, and their interest in getting volunteering support, face-to-face or digitally. Binary logistic regressions were used to investigate potential predictors of interest in getting volunteering support face-to-face or digitally. RESULTS: A total of 151 patients with psychotic disorders were included in this study. More than half of the patients (n = 87, 57.6%) had not heard about these volunteering programs. Many were interested in getting face-to-face (n = 87, 57.6%) and digital (n = 56, 37.1%) volunteering. For the face-to-face encounters, most preferred them to be weekly (n = 36, 41.4%), for one-hour (n = 32, 36.8%), and with an open-ended relationship (n = 45, 51.7%). For the digital contacts, most preferred them to be weekly (n = 17, 30.9%) and through text messages (n = 26, 46.4%). A minority of patients (n = 20, 13.2%) did not use digital technology. Patients with lower quality of life were significantly more likely to prefer face-to-face volunteering (p < .05). Younger patients and with fewer years of diagnosis were significantly more likely to prefer digital volunteering (p < .05). CONCLUSIONS: The variability in patients' interests suggests that different formats of volunteer support should be offered. Digital volunteering may become more important in the future, since many younger patients are interested in it.