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Reasons for attending support groups and organizational preferences: the European scleroderma support group members survey

Reasons for attending support groups and organizational preferences: the European scleroderma support group members survey

Disability and Rehabilitation 2017: 1-9

The objectives were to identify reasons why patients attend scleroderma support groups and to ascertain preferences for how meetings are best organized. The survey included 30-items on reasons for attending and nine items on organizational preferences. Patients were recruited through European patient organizations. Exploratory factor analysis was used to group reasons for attendance thematically. About 213 scleroderma patients (192 women) completed the survey. A three-factor model best described reasons for attending [χ2(348) = 586.1, p < 0.001; Comparative Fit Index = 0.98; Tucker Lewis Index = 0.97; Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.06] with themes that included: (1) obtaining interpersonal and social support, (2) learning about treatment and symptom management strategies, and (3) discussing other aspects of scleroderma. Among organizational preferences, respondents emphasized that meetings should include educational aspects and the opportunity to share information and support. People with scleroderma attend support groups to give and obtain social support and for education about managing their disease and other aspects of living with scleroderma. Support groups should be structured to facilitate both educational and informational aspects and to provide opportunities for sharing and support between members. Implications for rehabilitation Local peer-led support groups are an important support and informational resource for patients living with scleroderma. People with scleroderma attend support groups in order to: (1) obtain interpersonal and social support, (2) learn about disease treatment and symptom management strategies, and (3) discuss other aspects of living with scleroderma outside of symptom management. Most support group members prefer groups with a trained facilitator, that include family members or loved ones in the groups, that include between 11and 20 members, that last between 1 and 2 h, and that meet once every 1-3 months. Rehabilitation professionals can support the formation and management of local support groups or can refer patients to national scleroderma patient organizations for information on support groups that they may be able to access.

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Accession: 065461944

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 29254393

DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1416497

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