Table 1

Summary of papers included in the systematic review
Country Year Study design Number of volunteers interviewed Volunteer age Volunteer gender (%) Type of volunteering§ Type of mental health population
Germany [32] 1995 Large opinion survey of general public in Old and New Länder 9 of 1005 interviewed in Old Länder were volunteers. 13 of 2089 in New Länder were volunteers.N = 22 No detail No detail Mixed* Chronically mentally ill
Germany [33] 1994 Large opinion survey of general public in New Länder only 13 No detail No detail Mixed* Chronically mentally ill
Germany [30] 1996 Large opinion survey of volunteers of 452 services in one German region 330 out of 898 responded to the survey (Response rate 37%) 68 · 5% over 50. Only 10% under 40 M (17 · 3) F (82 · 7) Mixed* Psychiatric patients
Germany [31] 1990 Small questionnaire study 13 (21–27) ‘Mostly female’ Befriending Chronically mentally ill
Switzerland [34] 2000 Large opinion survey of general public in Switzerland 106 of the 1737 interviewed were volunteers (16–76) ‘Older people more likely to commit to volunteering’ M (38), F (62) ‘In a mental health setting’ General mental health context
UK [21] 2010 Naturalistic study, service evaluation 12 44 (25–64) M (25), F (75) Counselling Mental health problems - outpatients
UK [22] 1998 Naturalistic study, review of service 6 36 · 6 (23–48) M (33 · 3) F (66 · 6) Befriending Alcohol addicts - outpatients
UK [23] 1989 Naturalistic study, description of service 30 (18–59) M (26 · 6) F (73 · 3) Befriending Isolated and lonely users of outpatient psychiatric services. Diagnoses: Schizophrenia, manic depressive psychosis, depressive neurosis, anxiety states, dependent personality disorder.
UK [24] 2003 Naturalistic study, profile of service No detail No detail No detail Befriending Socially isolated outpatients experiencing long standing mental health problems. 36% Have depression, 10% dual diagnosis, 54% misc (schizophrenia, manic-depression, anxiety, isolation, and long term-mental health problems).
UK [25] 2003 Naturalistic study, profile of service No detail 20s as all undergraduates/graduates ‘Problems recruiting enough male volunteers’ Befriending People who are considered to have enduring or severe/complex mental health problems. 70% of the 450 known to the service have schizophrenia.
UK [27] 2011 Small questionnaire study 8 50 (29–65) M (75) F (25) Befriending Adults (outpatients) who find it difficult to form and sustain friendships as a result of moderate to severe mental health problems.
USA [26] 1973 Description of the volunteer ‘Case Aid’ program No detail No detail No detail ‘Case Aid’ volunteering Mental health inpatients and outpatients. Most diagnosed with schizophrenia.
USA [29] 2009 Naturalistic study, service evaluation 12 Unclear. All but 1 participant estimated to be over 30, some of retirement age M (33 · 3) F (66 · 6) Befriending People with severe mental illness (outpatients). Specific psychiatric diagnoses were not obtained
USA [28] 1967 Naturalistic study, single volunteer experience 1 No detail F (100) Member of a hospital psychiatric consultation team Psychiatric inpatients

*Mixed = A range of volunteering services are described in the paper.

§Type of volunteering = Rough equivalent of volunteer activity described by the paper. See individual papers for more detailed information.

Total (N) = 540 (22 + 330 + 13 + 106 + 12 + 6 + 30 + 8 + 12 + 1).

Hallett et al.

Hallett et al. BMC Psychiatry 2012 12:226   doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-226

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