Advertisement

Characteristics of People Who Use Telephone Counseling: Findings from Secondary Analysis of a Population-Based Study

  • Bridget Bassilios
  • Meredith Harris
  • Aves Middleton
  • Jane Gunn
  • Jane Pirkis
Original Article

Abstract

The characteristics of people who use telephone counseling are not well understood. This secondary analysis used data from a nationally representative community survey of 8,841 Australian adults to compare callers and non-callers to telephone counseling services. Callers have a poorer clinical profile, including a higher risk of suicide, than people who do not use telephone counseling. They also use a variety of other mental health services. Repeat calls are associated with anxiety disorders, receipt of mental health care from general practitioners, and social disadvantage. All callers have a potential need for telephone counseling and further population studies that distinguish between telephone services intended to provide crisis (one-off) and ongoing counseling are warranted.

Keywords

Telephone counseling Crisis helpline Repeat callers Frequent callers Population-based study 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Lifeline Foundation with funding from Servier Australia. The authors wish to thank the Lifeline Foundation and Servier Australia for the opportunity to collaborate on this important research project. We thank Alan Woodward for his professional input. The 2007 NSMHWB was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, and conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Aves Middleton is funded through PhD scholarships proceeded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Rotary Health and Jane Pirkis is funded by a Senior Research Fellowship from the NHMRC.

References

  1. Andrews, G., & Peters, L. (1998). The psychometric properties of the composite diagnostic interview. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 33, 80–88.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2003). Information paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS health surveys, Australia, 2001. Canberra: ABS.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009a). 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: User’s Guide (Cat. No. 4327.0). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009b). Technical Manual: National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Confidentialised Unit Record Files 2007 (Cat. No. 4329.0) Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). Mental health services in Australia 2006–07. Mental health series No. 11. Cat. No. HSE 74. Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  6. Bartholomew, A. A., & Olijnyk, E. (1973). The chronic caller and an emergency telephone advisory service. Australian Social Work, 26(1), 29–32. doi: 10.1080/03124077308549385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgess, N., Christensen, H., Leach, L. S., Farrer, L., & Griffiths, K. M. (2008). Mental health profile of callers to a telephone counselling service. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 14(1), 42–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Burgess, P., & Pirkis, J. E. (2009). Service use for mental health problems: findings from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 615–623.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Coman, G. J., Burrows, G. D., & Evans, B. J. (2001). Telephone counselling in Australia: applications and considerations for use. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 29(2), 247–258. doi: 10.1080/03069880020047166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coveney, C. M., Pollock, K., Armstrong, S., & Moore, J. (2012). Callers’ experiences of contacting a national suicide prevention helpline: Report of an online survey. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 33(6), 313–324. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Efron, B. (1981). Nonparametric estimates of standard error: the jackknife, the bootstrap and other methods. Biometrika, 68(3), 589–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hall, B., & Schlosar, H. (1995). Repeat callers and the Samaritan telephone crisis line: A Canadian experience. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 16(2), 66–71, 89.Google Scholar
  13. Ingram, S., Ringle, J., Hallstrom, K., Schill, D., Gohr, V., & Thompson, R. (2008). Coping with Crisis across the Lifespan: The Role of a Telephone Hotline. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 17(5), 663–674. doi: 10.1007/s10826-007-9180-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. IRIS Research. (2006). Lifeline National Consumer Needs and Expectations Survey 2005. Canberra: Lifeline Australia.Google Scholar
  15. Johnston, A. K., Pirkis, J. E., & Burgess, P. M. (2009). Suicidal thoughts and behaviours among Australian adults: findings from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 635–643.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Kessler, R. C., Andrews, G., Colpe, L. J., Hiripi, E., Mroczek, D. K., LT-Normand, S., et al. (2002). Short screening scales to monitor population prevalences and trends in non-specific psychological distress. Psychological Medicine, 32(6), 959–976.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kessler, R. C., & Ustun, T. B. (2004). The World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 13, 93–121.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lester, D., & Brockopp, G. W. (1970). Chronic callers to a suicide prevention center. Community Mental Health Journal, 6(3), 246–250.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Middleton, A., Gunn, J., Bassilios, B., & Pirkis, J. (2014). Systematic review of research into frequent callers to crisis helplines. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 20(2), 89–98.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mullins, L. C., Elston, C. H., & Gutkowski, S. M. (1996). Social determinants of loneliness among older Americans. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 122(4), 453–473.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. National Health Workforce Planning and Research Collaboration. (2011). Mental Health Non-Government Organisation Workforce Project Final Report. Adelaide: Health Workforce Australia.Google Scholar
  22. Parslow, R. A., & Jorm, A. F. (2000). Who uses mental health services in Australia? An anslysis of data from the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34(6), 997–1008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rosenfield, M. (1997). Counselling by telephone. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  24. Sawyer, J., & Jameton, E. (1979). Chronic callers to a suicide prevention center. Suicide and Life -Threatening Behavior, 9(2), 97–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Seeley, M. F. (1993). Hotlines—A case study. Crisis, 14(2), 59–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Slade, T., Johnston, A., Oakely Brown, M.A., Andrews, G., & Whiteford, H. (2009). 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: methods and key findings. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 594–605.Google Scholar
  27. Spittal, M. J., Fedyszyn, I., Middleton, A., Bassilios, B., Gunn, J., Woodward, A., & Pirkis, J. (2014). Frequent callers to crisis helplines: Who are they and why do they call? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Online First, 1–11.Google Scholar
  28. StataCorp. (2012). Stata Statistical Software: Release 11.2: StataCorp.Google Scholar
  29. Urbis Keys Young. (2002). National review of tele counselling and web counselling services. Canberra: Department of Health & Ageing.Google Scholar
  30. Urbis Keys Young. (2003). National review of tele and web counselling services: Literature review. Canberra: Department of Health & Ageing.Google Scholar
  31. Watson, R. J., McDonald, J., & Pearce, D. C. (2006). An exploration of national calls to Lifeline Australia: social support or urgent suicide intervention? British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 34(4), 471–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. World Health Organization. (1992). The ICD-10 Classification of mental and behavioural disorders: Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bridget Bassilios
    • 1
  • Meredith Harris
    • 2
  • Aves Middleton
    • 3
  • Jane Gunn
    • 3
  • Jane Pirkis
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Population HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.General Practice and Primary Health Care Academic CentreThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations