Perceived Acceptability and Experiences of a Digital Psychoeducation and Peer Support Intervention (COPe-support): Interview Study with Carers Supporting Individuals with Psychosis

Rachel Batchelor, Sarah Gulshan, Halpana Shritharan, Elen Williams, Claire Henderson, Steve Gillard, Luke A. Woodham, Victoria Cornelius, Jack Elkes, Jacqueline Sin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Web-based mental health interventions offer a novel, accessible, and self-paced approach to care delivery to family carers (ie, relatives and close friends who support a loved one with psychosis). We coproduced COPe-support (Carers fOr People with Psychosis e-support), a psychoeducational intervention delivered via an enriched web-based learning environment with network support from professionals and peers. In addition to the rigorous investigation of the effectiveness of COPe-support on the well-being of carers and mental health outcomes, it is imperative to understand the experiences of using the web-based intervention by carers and its associated web-based implementation and facilitation strategies. Objective: This study aims to explore the experiences of carers and perceived acceptability of COPe-support and its different components, how carers found engagement with COPe-support affected their own well-being and caregiving, and the ideas of carers for improving COPe-support and its delivery to inform any future wider implementation. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study, individually interviewing 35 carers, following their use of COPe-support for 8 months through a web-based, randomized controlled trial across England. A semistructured guide with open-ended questions was used to explore the experiences of carers and perceived acceptability of the intervention and their ideas to improve the provision. All interviews were conducted remotely through mobile phones or internet communication media, audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. We used a thematic analysis framework to analyze the data. Results: Three key themes were identified: remote, flexible, and personalized support; impacts on well-being and outlook on caregiving; and future implementation and integration with existing services. Overall, carers found COPe-support a flexible source of knowledge and support from professionals and peers that they could personalize to suit their own needs and convenience. Participants described gaining self-confidence, hope, and a sense of connectivity with others in a similar situation, which helped ameliorate isolation and perceived stigma. Most importantly, COPe-support promoted self-care among the carers themselves. Participants’ experiences, use, and activity on COPe-support varied greatly and differed among carers of various ages and levels of computer literacy. Conclusions: Nearly all participants had a positive experience with COPe-support and supported its wider implementation as a beneficial adjunctive support resource for carers in the future. Any future scale-up of such an intervention needs to consider feedback from carers and suggestions for further improvement. These included having more graphics and audiovisual content materials, improving the navigation, and building in more interactional and customization options to suit various user styles, such as emoji reactions, live web-based chat, opting in and out of updates, and choosing the frequency of reminders. To ensure successful implementation, we should also consider factors pertinent to reaching more carers and integrating the web-based resources with other conventional services. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) 89563420; International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): RR2-10.1186/s12888-020-02528-w

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27781
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2022


  • EHealth
  • Family carers
  • Mobile phone
  • Peer support
  • Psychosis
  • Qualitative research
  • Web-based psychoeducation


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