Helping people with psychosis to expand their social networks: the stakeholders’ views [2020]

People with psychosis experience more social isolation than any other diagnostic group and have smaller social networks than the general population. This isolation can have a detrimental effect on quality of life. No direct, standardised interventions have been developed to specifically target this issue. Stakeholders input appears crucial in the process of developing such an intervention. This study aimed to identify the main considerations when developing an intervention aiming to reduce social isolation in people with psychosis.

Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with patients, carers and mental health staff. Data was thematically analysed.

Thirty four patients with psychosis, 26 carers of people experiencing psychosis and 22 mental health professionals participated in the study. Suggested aspects to be considered in a novel intervention were: i) finding and training the right staff member; ii) discussing negative social attitudes and patients’ previous negative experiences, iii) addressing personal ambivalence; iv) establishing how best to provide information about social activities; v) facilitating access to social activities, vi) striking a balance between support and independence.

The suggestions identified can help to develop more targeted approaches to reduce social isolation within this patient group. A patient-centred approach and generic communication skills appear to be underpinning most of the helpful elements identified, whilst specific techniques and skills can help to overcome negative past experiences and motivational barriers.

Helena Tee, Stefan Priebe, Carlos Santos, Penny Xanthopoulou, Martin Webber & Domenico Giacco
BMC Psychiatry, volume 20, Article number: 29 (2020)