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’Hold on, for each other’ : Effect of personal email support of a web-based self help intervention for partners of cancer patients on psychological distress and mental health

Zimmermann, S.K.Z. (2017) ’Hold on, for each other’ : Effect of personal email support of a web-based self help intervention for partners of cancer patients on psychological distress and mental health.

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Abstract:Background: It has been found that web-based interventions are as effective as the traditional face-to-face variant, while containing several advantages (e.g., flexibility, low-threshold). A lot of research was conducted on the effectiveness of web-based interventions and additional guidance was found to improve treatment effects. However, to this day it is unknown which characteristics of guidance were responsible for the improved effects. Objective: Therefore, this study aimed to discover factors which make additional guidance (i.e., personal email support) effective. The characteristics analyzed in the current study were the scope of communication (i.e., number of written emails and words) as well as expressions of counselors and participants on the communication levels content, procedure and relation. Method: A content analysis of 482 exchanged emails between counselors and 26 participants of a web-based self-help intervention was conducted with the help of coding schemes. Correlation analyses were carried out to discover which characteristics were linked with the intervention outcomes (i.e., improvement of psychological distress (HADS) and mental health (MHC SF)). Results: Only a few significant correlations were found with the intervention outcomes and counselors’ and participants’ expressions. Correlations were mainly found with the communication level relation. Out of the 33 identified counselors’ expressions, eight variables (i.e., reflection on content, agreement, change of counselor, hoping, thanking, empathy (concerning the personal situation), questions (concerning the personal situation) and looking forward towards a reaction) showed significantly moderate to strong positive correlations with the outcomes of the intervention, except for the variable agreement. Surprisingly agreement showed a moderately negative correlation with the psychological distress and the variable change of counselor showed a strongly positive correlation with the psychological distress of participants. Counselors’ expressions of technological problems showed a strongly negative correlation with the psychological distress. Furthermore, 26 different expressions of participants were found. Thereof, four variables (i.e., looking forward to the next module, sharing positive experiences of the content, excusing and sharing neutral experiences of personal life) showed significantly moderate to strong correlations with the outcomes of the intervention. Counselors’ expressions were mainly correlated with the mental health, whereas participants’ expressions were mainly correlated with the psychological distress. Results revealed no significant correlations between the scope of communication and intervention outcomes. Conclusion: The findings of this study are valuable for developer of interventions, since they can take this into account by generating or optimizing web-based interventions in the future. Since many aspects are not known yet, future research is needed.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/73477
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