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Table 1 Summary of papers included in the systematic review

From: Characteristics, motivations and experiences of volunteer befrienders for people with mental illness: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

Country Year Study design Number of volunteers interviewed Volunteer age (mean and age range) Volunteer gender (% female) Mental disorders of patientsb
Austria [19] 2018 Survey of volunteers across 5 of the 8 regions in Austria 360 54.5 78.8 Adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI)
αGermany [20] 1990 Small questionnaire study 13 21–27 “Mostly female” Chronically mentally ill
Ireland [21] 2015 Prospective RCT of befriending 73 Not stated Not stated Adults with SMI
UK [14] 2013 Service evaluation (questionnaire and qualitative interviews with volunteers) 80, 14 of whom took part in qualitative interviews 20–60 years-old Not stated Mothers with post-natal depression and complex needs
αUK [15] 1989 Naturalistic study, description of service 31 18–59 73.3 Isolated and lonely users of outpatient psychiatric services. Diagnoses: schizophrenia, manic depressive psychosis, depressive neurosis, anxiety states, dependent personality disorder.
αUK [16] 2003 Naturalistic study, profile of service No detail No detail No detail Socially isolated outpatients experiencing long standing mental health problems. 36% have depression, 10% dual diagnosis, 54% other (schizophrenia, manic-depression, anxiety, and long-term mental health problems).
αUK [17] 2003 Naturalistic study, profile of service No detail University students Not stated (‘Problems recruiting enough male volunteers’) People with enduring or severe/complex mental health problems. 70% of the 450 had schizophrenia.
αUK [18] 2011 Small questionnaire study 8 50 (29–65) 25 Adults (outpatients) with difficulties to form and sustain friendships due to moderate/severe mental health problems.
αUSA [22] 2009 Naturalistic study, service evaluation 12 Unclear. All but one estimated to be over 30, some of retirement age 66.7 People with severe mental illness (outpatients). Specific psychiatric diagnosis not obtained.
  1. aPapers taken from review conducted by Hallett et al. [11]
  2. bUsing the terminology of the original publications
  3. Total befrienders (N) = 577 (360 + 13 + 73 + 80 + 31 + 8 + 12)