This paper reports on an evaluation of the Self-Help Clearinghouse of Metropolitan Toronto. The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to facilitate the growth and development of self-help/mutual aid groups, and to inform and educate both the Metropolitan Toronto professional helping community and the larger community of the nature and availability of self-help. This study included: (a) a pre- and post-test assessment of awareness, knowledge, and utilization of the Clearinghouse's services and (b) a descriptive assessment of the perceived value of the Clearinghouse from the perspective of a range of informants. Study information was collected from: (a) a selection of representatives of Metro Toronto self-help groups (pre-test N = 70 and post-test N = 52) and (b) a selection of representatives of Metro Toronto health and social services agencies (pre-test N = 70 and post-test N = 55). The findings demonstrated that the awareness, knowledge, and utilization of the Clearinghouse's services by members of the self-help community and human service professionals increased over a 2 1/2-year period. Statistically significant differences were noted among both groups in terms of increased awareness and utilization of the Clearinghouse. As well, professionals' increased knowledge of information and referral services and the directory and the self-help groups' perception of a need for a unique organization dealing with self-help were statistically significant. Both groups perceived a need for a distinct clearinghouse for self-help groups and were very satisfied with the services of the Self-Help Clearinghouse in Metropolitan Toronto.
The Native American Cancer Survivors' Support Network is an innovative public health program designed to improve survival from cancer and the quality of life after a cancer diagnosis for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Canadian Aboriginal patients and their loved ones. The Network, initiated in 1999, now has more than 300 survivors enrolled as members. This article briefly describes the process that led to its formation and preliminary findings, primarily for breast cancer survivors, of ongoing qualitative and quantitative research. Network data show patterns of cancer care that are partially responsible for poor survivorship outcomes.
Social support networks have been identified as one factor that can help people resolve their problem drinking. A relatively new phenomenon is online support groups, such as the one provided on the Alcohol Help Center (AHC; http://www.alcoholhelpcenter.net). Preliminary use of the AHC support group will be summarized and lessons learned in the initial development of an online support group will be discussed.
The AHC support group can be viewed by anyone interested in its content. However, only registered users of the AHC can make postings and trained professional staff moderates all support group content. The amount and content of traffic on this support group were recorded. Qualitative analyses were conducted to identify the types of message content.
There were 674 posts on the AHC during the first 10 months of operation, including those made by the professional moderators. Content analyses of these postings identified common themes, including introductions, greetings, general supportive statements, suggested strategies, success stories, and discussion of difficulties. In addition, it appeared that the amount of traffic on the support group varied over time and clustered around nodes that consisted of one or more active users. This variation in traffic may disappear over time as overall use of the AHC support group increases.
Online support groups are developing into a new venue of support for those with drinking problems and other addictions concerns.
Consider referring clients to an online, professionally moderated, support group as another means to help problem drinkers.
Every year in Sweden, between five and ten patients receive a mechanical heart pump due to grave heart failure. One such pump is the left ventricle assist device (LVAD). At home they need much support from their family.
To investigate the close relatives' experience of their role in relation to patients with an LVAD.
An exploratory study using unstructured interviews with six close relatives of patients with an LVAD. The interviews consisted of one open question: 'What is it like to be the close relative of a patient with an LVAD?' The interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis.
The time before LVAD surgery was described as a time of emotional ups and downs, and compared to 'being on an emotional rollercoaster ride'. The nearest relatives were in shock, felt anxiety and uncertainty, and wished to be near the patient. The time after surgery was described as a period in which they had to 'cope with the new situation.' During this period, the staff was experienced as a resource and the relatives described feelings of gratitude, willpower, and acceptance. The stay at home with a person with an LVAD was described as a 'new orientation phase' with limited freedom and the need for respite care. The interviewees expressed the need for support, especially once the patient was at home.
It is important to also offer long-term professional support to the nearest relatives of patients with an LVAD.
The study investigated how a group intervention programme (13 sessions over 16 weeks), designed for men with cancer (n = 17), affected their sense of well-being and had a positive impact on their ability to cope with the physical, psychological and social consequences of living with cancer. The close-knit relationships fostered between participants stimulated a sense of solidarity and commitment amongst them. New thinking in relation to gender, group dynamics and social processes is presented, as are the implications for clinical nursing practice in cancer care. The experience from male orientated group intervention programmes shows that men with cancer have undiscovered strengths, whilst some wish to die 'with their boots on'.
Despite the phenomenal growth during the past decade of cancer self-help groups for adult patients with cancer, little research has been conducted to document the interface between these groups and healthcare professionals, especially physicians. This study was initiated to provide information about family physician practices, awareness, and attitudes about self-help groups.
A survey questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of Ontario family physicians drawn from the College of Family Physicians of Canada's membership database.
A total of 911 completed questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 64%. A majority (56.8%) of respondents were aware of at least one cancer self-help group in their region; 26.8% of these spoke frequently with their cancer patients about such groups. Most family physicians indicated that they were positively inclined toward cancer self-help groups, giving especially high ratings of helpfulness to sharing common experiences, overcoming isolation, feeling understood, and sharing information. Ratings of potential harm were low, with the most concern expressed about the possible provision of misinformation and the promotion of unconventional therapies. Responses to an open-ended question showed that many family physicians qualify their support for cancer self-help groups, depending on patient need, group composition, and leadership.
Family physicians and other members of the cancer care team should give increased attention to informing cancer patients about the potential benefits of self-help groups. Efforts need to be made to assist cancer self-help groups in developing informational brochures and to ensure that groups are listed in cancer resource directories. Educational initiatives about self-help groups would be useful for family physicians and other health professionals engaged in the care of cancer patients.
CHARGE association is a non-random collection of congenital anomalies. The condition is becoming more widely known to medical and educational professionals. The number of children diagnosed is increasing, probably because of the greater awareness of this condition. This paper considers some of the long-term management problems which are often deferred in the early months, when acute life threatening problems take priority. Questionnaires were sent to parents via the CHARGE Association Family Support Group, UK. Thirty-nine were returned and incomplete information was sought by personal contact or telephone. The majority of children were known professionally to one or both authors and information was therefore checked from medical and educational notes. There is still widespread misunderstanding about the impact of multiple disability, especially when this includes multi-sensory impairment, on the early development of the child. Therefore, the information collected from the study has been from an educational and medical perspective, thereby aiding the understanding of these complex problems. At the parents request, information was gathered about certain teratogens, of which Lindane, an organophosphate, is highlighted.
Circles of Support & Accountability (COSA) started 15 years ago in Ontario, Canada, as an alternate means of social support to high-risk sexual offenders released at the end of their sentences without any community supervision. The pilot project in South-Central Ontario has since assisted almost 200 offenders. Projects based on this model are now in place in the United Kingdom, several jurisdictions in the United States, and throughout Canada. Initial research into the efficacy of the COSA pilot project showed that participation reduced sexual recidivism by 70% or more in comparison with both matched controls and actuarial norms. The current study sought to replicate these findings using an independent Canadian national sample. A total of 44 high-risk sexual offenders, released at sentence completion and involved in COSA across Canada, were matched to a group of 44 similar offenders not involved in COSA. The average follow-up time was 35 months. Recidivism was defined as having a charge or conviction for a new offense. Results show that offenders in COSA had an 83% reduction in sexual recidivism, a 73% reduction in all types of violent recidivism, and an overall reduction of 71% in all types of recidivism in comparison to the matched offenders. These findings suggest that participation in COSA is not site-specific and provide further evidence for the position that trained and guided community volunteers can and do assist in markedly improving offenders' chances for successful reintegration.