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Keywords:

  • Bipolar Disorder;
  • Web Based;
  • Self-Management;
  • Intervention Development

Background

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic and recurrent severe mental health problem. A web-based self-management intervention provides the opportunity to widen access to psychological interventions. This qualitative study aims to identify what an ideal web-based intervention would look like for service users with BD.

Methods

Twelve service users with BD were recruited in the UK and took part in a series of focus groups to inform and refine the development of a web-based self-management intervention. Reported here is a subset analysis of data gathered with the primary aim of identifying the needs and desires of service users for such an intervention for BD. We analysed service users' responses to questions about content, outcomes, format, barriers and support. Focus groups were transcribed verbatim, and thematic analysis was employed.

Results

The data were ordered into four key themes: (1) gaining an awareness of and managing mood swings; (2) not just about managing mood swings: the importance of practical and interpersonal issues; (3) managing living within mood swings without losing the experience; (4) internet is the only format: freely accessible, instant and interactive; (5) professional and peer support to overcome low motivation and procrastination difficulties.

Limitations

The small group of participants are not representative of those living with BD.

Conclusions

These findings have significantly enhanced our understanding of what service users with BD want from a web-based self-management intervention and have clear implications for the future development of such approaches. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message

  • Service users desire a web-based self-management approach that gives them the techniques they need to not only manage their moods but also manage their lives alongside the disorder, including interpersonal and practical issues.
  • Service users describe their primary outcome, not as a cure or reduction in their symptoms, but instead being able to live a fulfilling life alongside their condition.
  • Service users see the internet as their preferred format because of the increased accessibility to evidence-based intervention.
  • Service users discussed the potential barriers to web-based interventions including motivation and procrastination. Effective and acceptable content and low-level support provide potential solutions to these issues.