In this report, the authors describe Man to Man prostate cancer support group characteristics and functioning to identify ways to strengthen the program as it expands nationally and internationally.
description of study:
A mail survey of 38 groups in Florida collected data on group meeting practices, facilitator background, training, and perceived needs, and on participant characteristics and satisfaction with the group. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses of survey data were performed.
Typical groups included both survivors and significant others, met on a monthly basis, and followed a format that combined educational content with sharing of personal experiences. Facilitators and participants alike were typically retired white men in their 60s and 70s from well-educated professional backgrounds, who joined the groups after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. High levels of satisfaction with the program's organization and functioning were reported. Perceived needs were in the areas of increasing access to support services, achieving a more diverse membership, and better outreach to newly diagnosed patients.
Healthcare professionals can play a key role in informing newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients about the availability of support groups in their communities. Earlier referral to support groups would enhance patients' access to shared experiences and resources for guidance in treatment decisions. Greater attention to psychosocial issues in Man to Man support groups might better meet the emotional needs of patients and families.