Experiences of social support among participants in self-help groups related to coronary heart disease

Authors

  • C. HILDINGH RN, BNSc, RNTM,

    Corresponding author
    1. Doctoral Candidate, R&D Unit, Halland University College of Caring Science, Halmstad/Varberg, Sweden and Department of Primary Health Care, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • K. SEGESTEN RN, PhDM,

    1. Associate Professor, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden and Gothenburg College of Health and Caring Science, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • C. BENGTSSON MD, PhDM,

    1. Professorial Head, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • H. FRIDLUND RN, PhDM

    1. Associate Professorial Head
      R&D Unit, Halland University College of Caring Science, Halmstad/ Varberg, Sweden and Department of Nursing Science, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland
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C. Hildingh, R&D Unit, Halland University College of Caring Science, Träslövsvägen 62B, S-J32 37 Varberg, Sweden.

Summary

  • 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.

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