Support Groups: Why Do People Attend?


  • Janice K. Purk PhD LSW CFCS

    Assistant Professor, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Janice Purk is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the State University of West Georgia in Carrollton, GA. Address correspondence to Janice Purk, State University of West Georgia, Department of Sociology and Criminology, Pafford Hall, Carrollton



Support groups have become a part of the lives of many people who suffer from illness and injury. Physicians and other healthcare professionals often recommend them to patients and families dealing with medical conditions, and many support groups are diagnosis specific. The members of five support groups were surveyed to determine the factors that influenced their decision to participate. They reported they attended the groups to meet others with the same diagnosis and to gain more information about the diagnosis. The activities they were most likely to attend were those that gave information on the diagnosis, treatment options, and coping strategies. The social aspects of the support groups were more important to those who were married and attended with their spouse. The population of this sample was found to be in close contact with family members. They appeared to view their participation in the group as empowering.