Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: User Assistance


Frequent callers present a challenge for crisis helplines, which strive to achieve optimal outcomes for all callers within finite resources. This study aimed to describe frequent callers to Lifeline (the largest crisis helpline in Australia) and compare them with non-frequent callers, with a view to furthering knowledge about models of service delivery that might meet the needs of frequent callers.

Concepts: Helpline, Helplines, User Assistance


BACKGROUND: Breastfeeding peer support, is considered to be a key intervention for increasing breastfeeding duration rates. Whilst a number of national organisations provide telephone based breastfeeding peer support to date there have been no published evaluations into callers' experiences and attitudes of this support. In this study we report on the descriptive and qualitative insights provided by 908 callers as part of an evaluation of UK-based breastfeeding helpline(s). METHODS: A structured telephone interview, incorporating Likert scale responses and open-ended questions was undertaken with 908 callers over May to August, 2011 to explore callers' experiences of the help and support received via the breastfeeding helpline(s). RESULTS: Overall satisfaction with the helpline was high, with the vast majority of callers' recalling positive experiences of the help and support received. Thematic analysis was undertaken on all qualitative and descriptive data recorded during the evaluation, contextualised within the main areas addressed within the interview schedule in terms of ‘contact with the helplines’; ‘experiences of the helpline service’, ‘perceived effectiveness of support provision’ and ‘impact on caller wellbeing’. CONCLUSION: Callers valued the opportunity for accessible, targeted, non-judgmental and convenient support. Whilst the telephone support did not necessarily influence women’s breastfeeding decisions, the support they received left them feeling reassured, confident and more determined to continue breastfeeding. We recommend extending the helpline service to ensure support can be accessed when needed, and ongoing training and support for volunteers. Further advertising and promotion of the service within wider demographic groups is warranted.

Concepts: Qualitative research, Demographics, Likert scale, Telephone, The Help, Helpline, Helplines, User Assistance


Research since the 1960s has consistently found that lay volunteers are better at helping suicidal callers than professionals. Yet, professional degrees are increasingly becoming requirements for helpline workers. In our first study, we conducted post hoc comparisons of U.S. helplines with all professional paid staff, all lay volunteers, and a mix of both, using silent monitoring and standardized assessments of 1,431 calls. The volunteer centers more often conducted risk assessments, had more empathy, were more respectful of callers, and had significantly better call outcome ratings. A second study of five Quebec suicide prevention centers used silent monitoring to compare telephone help in 1,206 calls answered by 90 volunteers and 39 paid staff. Results indicate no significant differences between the volunteers and paid employees on outcome variables. However, volunteers and paid staff with over 140 hours of call experience had significantly better outcomes. Unlike the United States, Quebec paid employees were not required to have advanced professional degrees. We conclude from these results and previous research that there is no justification for requiring that suicide prevention helpline workers be mental health professionals. In fact, the evidence to date indicates that professionals may be less effective in providing telephone help to suicidal individuals when compared to trained lay volunteers.

Concepts: Psychology, Comparison, United States, Professional, Psychiatry, Comparisons, Suicide prevention, User Assistance


There are over 1500 UK health helplines in operation, yet we have scant knowledge about the resources in place to support the seeking and delivering of cancer-related telephone help and support. This research aimed to identify and describe cancer and cancer-related helpline service provision: the number of helplines available, the variety of services provided and accessibility of those services.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Anarchy in the U.K., Decolonization, Helpline, Helplines, User Assistance, Welsh language


Abstract Helplines are core feature of the contemporary UK healthcare system, however little is known about callers' experiences of seeking cancer-related telephone help. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 32 cancer helpline callers. The findings suggest cancer helplines offer callers (1) time to discuss their issues; (2) anonymity; (3) convenience; and (4) an open outlet for anyone affected by cancer including family/friends. Further, the findings highlighted that callers' help-seeking behaviour was multi-faceted, with their psychosocial needs being intrinsically intertwined with their information or advice-seeking needs. The implications are discussed in relation to the role of cancer helplines in the healthcare system.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Debate, Helpline, User Assistance


OBJECTIVE: Helplines are a key service used for information and support by people affected by cancer. Little is known about the process of delivering and seeking cancer related telephone help. METHODS: Using conversation analysis 52 calls between callers and specialist nurses on a major UK cancer helpline are analysed; focusing on the openings of helpline calls by specialist nurses. The helpline involves a triage system from a frontline call-taker to a specialist nurse. RESULTS: The triage system introduces challenges to the interactions for nurses and callers. This paper demonstrates how calls commence, and outlines implications for how they progress. Four key elements to the nurse’s initial opening of the call were identified, which together contribute to managing an effective transition from the frontline call-taker to the current call with the specialist cancer nurse. CONCLUSION: The smooth exchange of information and provision of support in a trusted call environment is a critical goal of the cancer helpline; an effective call opening in a triage environment may significantly optimise the possibility of this goal being realised. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: A simple strategy is recommended to avoid the difficulties identified, a script for how the triaged call openings may be optimally formulated.

Concepts: Management, English-language films, Chess opening, User Assistance