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The experiences of setting up a community peer support group that promotes the health and wellbeing of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Abstract

 

Objectives: To understand the experiences of a setting up a community physical activity (PA) support group that promotes the health and wellbeing of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Design: A hermeneutic phenomenological methodology with a subtle realist paradigm

Setting: In person at the University of Birmingham or via Skype.  

Participants: A purposive sample of 6 individuals with MS (5 Female, 1 Male) was included. Eligibility criteria was a) attended previous PA ice breaker event, b) >18 years and c) >3 years since diagnosis

Intervention: Event bringing together individuals to discuss PA for newly diagnosed MS patients. Following this event, they chose to stay in contact and create their own support group.

Main outcome: Demographic details taken include age, gender, time since diagnosis and type of MS. The main outcome measure was a semi-structured interview with various sub-sections. Thematic analysis identified the main concepts and ideas from the interviews, and wider literature was integrated to enhance data reliability.

Results: Four major themes and nine sub themes arose from interviews, centred around individuals establishing a new social identity from group participation and being empowered to change. Group interaction is particularly significant as it occurs in a relaxed context, which is emphasised as a contrast to the clinical and disease focused healthcare environment. There are some barriers to joining, but the group has benefitted all individuals involved.

Conclusions: There is a need for policy and practice providers need to consider the value of peer support for individuals with MS.

Wed 15 Jan 2020, 10:35 | Tags: Local Research Autumn 2019

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