Table 3

Summary of befriending interventions

StudyLead agencyBefrienderTrainingDeliveryIntensityMatchingAdherence
Charlesworth14 Local voluntary organisationVolunteer befrienders1 day for befriending facilitator and 12 hours for befrienders, including boundaries, listening skills, carers’ problems, health and safety and confidentialityFace to face in patient’s homeWeekly 1 hour sessions over 6 monthsYes, on locality and knowledge of carer and befriender preferences48% requested a befriender, 32% received 6 months. Intended intensity rarely achieved due to carer time commitments
Coe25 Local voluntary organisationVolunteer befrienders6-day training course, including child development, perinatal problems and roles and responsibilitiesFace to face in patient’s home/attendance at a support groupWeekly contact over 12 monthsNot specified15%–24% did not attend the service, or did not continue
Davidson15 Local voluntary organisation and academicVolunteer befrienders
(stipend received for the session)
Yes, initial training and orientation as well as ongoing monthly support meetingsFace to face in patient’s home and in the communityWeekly contact for 2–4 hours over 9 monthsYes, based on shared interests, age and gender36% did not meet with their partner
Harris16 Academic and social careFemale volunteer befrienders3-day training courseFace to face in patient’s homeOne contact per week for 1 hour over 12 monthsYes—on similarity of background experience23% did not meet befriender at all and 19% had 1 meeting. 40% received full 12 months, 19% had between 2 and 6 months befriending
Heller17 AcademicTrained female interviewersYes, details not specifiedTelephone onlyTwice a week for 5 weeks, then once a week for 5 weeksNot specifiedNot clear
Hughes26 Local voluntary organisationVolunteer befrienders2-day training course, ongoing support in monthly group meetingsFace to face at group houseOnce a week over 4 monthsNot specified75% did not continue
MacIntyre18 Community agency programmeUndergraduate students
(part of coursework hours)
Yes, training provided on safety in relation to mobility aids and client’s diagnosisFace to face in patient’s homeOnce a week for 3–4 hours over 6 weeksYes—on suitability, general interests, expectations and personalityNot clear
McCorkle27 Local voluntary organisation and academicVolunteer befriendersYes, details not specifiedFace to face at patient’s home4 hours monthly over 12 monthsYes, on client’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, interests and psychiatric conditionNot clear
McNeil19 Health and academicTwo undergraduate psychology studentsNot clearFace to face in patient’s home (or nearby)Two visits per week of 20–40 min over 6 weeksNo100% adherence. Cancelled visits rescheduled within several days
Mountain20 Health and academicVolunteer befriendersYes—one session lasting between 1 and 2.5 hours. Covers information on research study, making one-to-one calls. Up to five volunteers simultaneously received four 1-hour sessions in group facilitation skills. They were supported by a written manualIndividual and group telephone onlyOne call of 10–20 min a week over 6 weeks, followed by 1-hour teleconferences of up to six participants once a week over 12 weeksNot specifiedNot specified
Rantanen21 AcademicVolunteer befriendersYes—3-day training course covering rights and responsibilities of volunteers, safety, social skills and duties; monthly support sessionsFace to face at various out-of-home activitiesOnce a week over 3 monthsYes—based on discretion for example, locality80% of patients met at least seven times with the volunteer
Sheridan22 AcademicVolunteer befrienders
(stipend received for the session)
Yes—1-day training programmeFace to face at patient’s home and in the communityOnce a week for 2 hours over 9 monthsYes—based on demographic, social and leisure profileNot specified
Walshe24 Health and academicVolunteer befriendersYes—training addressed issues of safety, boundaries, organisational requirements and basic communication skillsTypically, face to face at patient’s home and in the community but telephone contact was possibleOnce a week for 1–3 hours for 4 weeksYes—details not specifiedNot specified
White23 Health and academicVolunteer befriendersYes—3-day training programme in supportive communication, techniques, listening skills, emotional support. Provided with manual and received ongoing supervision and trainingTelephone onlyOnce a week over 9 monthsNot specifiedNot specified