Experiences of social support among participants in self-help groups related to coronary heart disease
C. Hildingh, R&D Unit, Halland University College of Caring Science, Träslövsvägen 62B, S-J32 37 Varberg, Sweden.
- •Self-help groups for coronary heart disease (CHD) patients were initiated by the Swedish National Association for Heart and Lung Patients in co-operation with Halland University College of Caring Science. Professional support was given in the form of a guidebook with health advice to be used at group meetings.
- •The aims of this study were to describe the experiences of social support and the effects of health advice among people suffering from CHD and their next-of-kin participating in self-help groups.
- •A questionnaire was developed containing three scales with questions about social support in connection with group participation and the effects of health advice shared during the programme.
- •The results showed that 84% of participants knew about risk factors; all group members had changed their attitudes in some way concerning their life-style and 65% thought that they had changed their daily life activities as a consequence of the group participation. Most participants had experienced social support, through both support received (82%) and their own ability to provide support (7.1, scale range 0–10).
- •In self-help groups layman support is the most effective kind of support, but the results indicate that health professionals also have an important role to play. In future research and clinical planning of rehabilitation of people with CHD, self-help groups, both from a human and economic point of view arc well worth considering.