Adaptation of a peer based online emotional support program as an adjunct to treatment for people with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders

Amit Baumel, Christoph U. Correll, Michael Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to describe the adaptation of a program designed to leverage 7 Cups of Tea (7Cups), an available online platform that provides volunteer (i.e., listener) based emotional support, to complement ongoing treatment for people with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. The adaptation of the program was based on two stages: First, following platform demonstration, six clinicians specializing in the treatment of schizophrenia completed a survey examining attitudes towards the program and suggested modifications. In response to clinicians' feedback, a computerized training program that provides information for listeners supporting people with schizophrenia was developed, and one hundred and sixty eight listeners completed an online knowledge test. In the second stage, 10 outpatients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders were recruited to chat with listeners, provided post-session open-ended comments as well as usability and usefulness ratings assessed on a five point Likert scale. The additional training significantly increased listeners' knowledge and confidence (0.38 < = Cohen's d < = 1.14, p < =.024). Patients' attitudes towards the listeners were positive and they expected the platform will be usable and helpful. Most patients expected a positive gain by having the opportunity to receive an outlet for emotions and socialize. The authors conclude that the use of an available digital platform resulted in a feasible intervention in terms of cost and availability, which is now ready for evaluation in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalInternet Interventions
StatePublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.


  • Emotional support
  • Online
  • Peer
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social support
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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