Management of Dizziness through Online Open Access Systems: A Mixed Method Study

  • Mari Carmen Portillo
  • Jaimie Ellis
  • Ivaylo Vassilev
  • Lucy Yardley
  • Anne Rogers
Keywords: Open access online systems, Dizziness, Self-management, Mixed methods, Focus group


Dizziness is one of the most common reasons why elderly people seek medical advice. Although several agents and levels of care could be involved in the diagnosis of dizziness, its treatment and education about how to manage it, dizziness is mainly dealt with in outpatients practice, increasing its financial burden. There is evidence that online support resources could be cost-effective educational methods to promote healthier behaviours and to manage a long term condition. An example of this is the LIFEGUIDE programme (Balance Retraining intervention online module), which has been successful in managing dizziness under the supervision of professionals from Primary Care. However, as an open access alternative to this, voluntary and community organisations could have the capacity to reach and guide people in the use of a web-based resource and optimise the use of community resources.

In this project we aimed to disseminate the balance Retraining LIFEGUIDE online module (to manage dizziness) within open systems through the involvement of voluntary and community organisations and understand their role in the dissemination and facilitation process.

This was a mixed method study (completed by March 2018) with a sequential explanatory design, including the following phases:

  1. Network mapping of VCOs and development of dissemination strategies and workshop, which led to the identification of participant organisations in this study and to the planning and implementation of the dissemination strategies of the online tool for dizziness management.
  2. Quantitative survey of the website resource use. Website users’ characteristics were explored and the effect of contagion mapped. All users were people suffering from dizziness.
  3. Qualitative data collection through a focus group to assess outcomes, resources used and patterns of contagion/spread and role of social media with the organisations involved in the dissemination process.

Statistical (SPSS 23.0) and thematic analyses took place, to meet the aim of this study. This presentation will also reflect on the explanatory value of the qualitative data for this project.

A total of 4 voluntary organisations relevant to dizziness and representing local, regional and national groups participated in the dissemination of the project and in the focus group. Their dissemination strategy resulted in total of 291 users of the dizziness online resource (phase 2) with a diverse profile in terms of residence (91.6% users were from the UK), age (mean age 58.2), gender and home characteristics. The most effective strategy of dissemination of the organisations was including a link to the dizziness online source on their respective websites (p<0.01).

Four categories emerged from the thematic analysis that explained the process of dissemination and use of the website and role of the voluntary organisations: Motivators and limitations to assume role in the dissemination of open access resources in the long term, Strategies for dissemination, Contagion effect as main outcome of the dissemination of the online resource, and Effectiveness of dissemination strategies and feedback

This project has shown care pathways that could increase the interaction between professionals and non-professionals, users, sectors and levels of care and contribute to building further working networks.