Background: The Recovery Approach is about supporting people to live the best life they possibly can. This paper reports on a 2008-11 study of a recovery-focussed, one-to-one coaching programme called Whole Life (WL) in a group of people with stabilised schizophrenia. WL comprises 15 modules, each addressing an aspect of life that may pose challenges for someone with mental illness. It involves regular meetings with a coach, additional homework activities and lasts approximately one-year. This level of commitment requires participants to be motivated and enthusiastic.
Methods: This was a non-randomised feasibility study, designed to assess acceptability and potential benefits of WL. The WL group was compared to another group of people with the same diagnosis, who received their usual treatment. This was not a strict control group. The primary outcome measure was the Social Adaptation Self-Assessment Scale.
Results: Of those recruited to the WL group, 33/44 (75%) completed the full programme. WL participants showed an 11-point increase in mean SASS between baseline and Week 60. Subjective ratings showed benefits of WL at 3 and 6 months after the intervention had ceased, with most saying they felt better and none saying that they felt worse. The comparison group was more ill than the WL group at baseline and showed some improvement over the course of the study, albeit at a lower level than the WL group. However, controlling for baseline group differences meant that none of the outcome measures could reliably distinguish between WL and comparison groups.
Conclusions: The study showed that WL is an acceptable and helpful intervention for motivated and enthusiastic individuals. It may have wider applicability for people with a less serious and chronic mental illness, although we do not know how it compares to other interventions. We discuss some methodological limitations of the study.