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The present study evaluated the impact on psychosocial outcome of parallel clinician and peer-led information programmes for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and for family members within an Irish context.
A sequential mixed method design was used. Quantitative data were collected using pre- and post-programme questionnaires followed by an integrated qualitative component involving semi-structured interviews after the programme. The questionnaires assessed knowledge, attitudes towards recovery, hope, support, advocacy and well-being. Interviews with participants, facilitators and project workers explored their experiences and views of the programme.
While a number of the questionnaires did not show a statistically significant change, findings from the interviews suggest that the1 programmes had a number of positive outcomes, including increases in perceived knowledge, empowerment and support. Participants in both programmes valued the opportunity to meet people in similar circumstances, share their experiences, learn from each other and provide mutual support.
The EOLAS programmes offer a novel template for communication and information sharing in a way that embodies the principles of collaboration and offers users and families a meaningful opportunity to become involved in service design, delivery and evaluation.
The EOLAS programme is a peer and clinician-led mental health information programme on recovery from mental health difficulties, specifically for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar disorders, their family members and significant others.
This article, the first of a two part series, outlines the background to and the rationale behind the EOLAS programme, and traces the participatory process used to inform the development and implementation of the pilot phase of the project. The aims of the programme, and the overarching principles that guided its development, delivery and evaluation, including the set-up of the project steering group are outlined and discussed.
Two separate programmes, one for family members and one for service users were designed. In addition, participant and facilitator handbooks were developed for each programme, including a training programme for facilitators.
Central to a recovery oriented service is the involvement of service users and families in the design and delivery of services. EOLAS is one potential model for achieving this aim.
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