Evaluation of the ICAR program - Internet Communication and Active Rehabilitation for People with Mental Disorders
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Psychiatr Pol 2008;42(3):353–364
Prevalence of internet use indicates, that introducing internet to people with mental disorders might have a positive impact on their social integration. There arc concerns about negative effects of dealing with virtual reality on the mental health of internet users. Aim. Evaluation of the ICAR program - Internet communication and active rehabilitation for people with mental disorders concerning its utility in psychiatric rehabilitation. Method. 22 participants of the ICAR programme and 22 controls (people with mental disorders not participating in the programme) were investigated before and after the completion of the programme. There following were compared: their computer and internet use skills, social functioning (Birchwood Scale), self-estimation of the mental health (Frankfurt Scale FBS), self-reported quality of life (WHO QOL BREV) and number of psychiatric hospitalisations during I I months of the observation period. Results. Among participants, their reported skills and motivation increased significantly following the programme. During 11 months of the observation there were less hospitalisations (1 fulltime and 1 daily) in the study group than in the control group (3 and 1). An increase of symptoms was observed in the Frankfurt Scale in 10 participants and 13 controls. The level of social functioning and severity of symptoms was not significantly different and did not change during observation. The self-reported quality of life increased in both groups during this period. Conclusions. ICAR training programme for the mentally ill, increases participants skills and motivation towards computer and internet use, as well as their self-reported quality of life. The participation in the programme doesn't have any significant effect on the overall social functioning and number of psychiatric hospitalisations during the 11 months of observation. A positive effect of the ICAR programme on the quality of life, as well as some activating effect leading to exacerbation of the psychopatological symptoms-has an unspecific character and is therefore similar to the other community rehabilitation programmes. Wider spreading of computer training workshops similar to the ICAR programme might have a positive effect on social integration of people with mental disorders.