Study protocol: The development of a pilot study employing a randomised controlled design to investigate the feasibility and effects of a peer support program following discharge from a specialist first-episode psychosis treatment centre

Robinson, Jo; Bruxner, Annie; Harrigan, Susy; Bendall, Sarah; Killackey, Eoin; Tonin, Vittoria; Monson, Katherine; Thurley, Melissa; Francey, Shona; Yung, Alison R.
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p37
Academic Journal
Background: Young people with first-episode psychosis (FEP) are at risk of a range of negative outcomes. Specialist FEP services have been developed to provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary treatment. However, these services are often available for a restricted period and the services that young people may be transferred to are less comprehensive. This represents a risk of drop out from treatment services in a group already considered to be at risk of disengagement. Peer support groups have been shown to improve social relationships among people with psychosis however individual peer support programs have not been tested on young people with first-episode psychosis; nor have they been tested at the point of discharge from services. Methods/design: The study is an 18-month randomised controlled trial being conducted at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia. The aim of the study is to test the feasibility and effects of a 6-month peer support intervention delivered to young people with FEP over the period of discharge. Participants are young people aged 15-24 who are being discharged from a specialist first-episode psychosis treatment centre. There is a 6-month recruitment period. The intervention comprises two hours of contact per fortnight during which peer support workers can assist participants to engage with their new services, or other social and community activities. Participants will be assessed at baseline and post intervention (6 months). Discussion: This paper describes the development of a randomised-controlled trial which aims to pilot a peer support program among young people who are being discharged from a specialist FEP treatment centre. If effective, the intervention could lead to benefits not only for participants over the discharge period, but for peer support workers as well. Trial registration: The study was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; number: ACTRN12610000241033.


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