Reaching out to carers of an individual with schizophrenia and a psychosis disorder: A framework for the construction and evaluation of a web-based intervention to improve carer wellbeing and quality of life

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Less than one percent of the population has been estimated to have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness (SMI), of which 80%-86% are will require ongoing need for support. Recent figures show that one in ten people has a caring role, with such roles being shown to have a negative impact on carer health.
The growth and popularity of the internet (or world wide web) suggests that this could be a useful medium for support provision, and this has been reflected in recent policy. Previous literature has outlined the valuable contribution carers have in caring for their ill relative and the negative impact this can have on carer health. The use of web-based resources can further promote carer empowerment, increase access to support for their emotional wellbeing and to assist in the management of the caring role. The research informing this thesis aimed to explore factors which constitute effective web-based support for carers of individuals with an SMI.
Eight carers and six mental health professionals participated in the research study, which adopted a mixed-method approach within a conceptual framework informed by a critical realist stance. Data was collected using qualitative comparative analysis of health-focused questionnaires and research diaries, and thematic analysis of qualitative interviews.
Analysis resulted in five key themes: 1.) Expertise via experience 2.) Empowerment through knowledge 3.) Connection, understanding and advice online 4.) Personal preference: considering the accessibility of the internet, and 5.) The landscape of carer support. Further analysis included the identification of generative mechanisms and contexts influencing the use of and impact of web-based resource usage on carer wellbeing and quality of life.
This thesis presents the process and findings of the research study, culminating in the suggestion and presentation of a framework designed to be of utility in the construction and evaluation of web-based needs-aligned intervention/support for carers of individuals with SMI. The framework is aligned to the key themes emerging from data analysis.
Potential directions for further research and development within the area of web-based provision for carers and family members are summarised.
Original languageEnglish
  • Wood, Markku, Supervisor
  • Machin, Tony, Supervisor
  • Taylor, John, Supervisor
Award date2 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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