The effects of identification with a support group on the mental health of people with multiple sclerosis

WAKEFIELD, J.R.H., BICKLEY, S. and SANI, F., 2013. The effects of identification with a support group on the mental health of people with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74 (5), pp. 420-426. ISSN 0022-3999

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Abstract

Objective: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is associated with various psychological problems, including depression and anxiety. Whilst MS support groups are intended to improve mental health, this goal is not always achieved. Taking a social identity approach, we hypothesise that it is the level of subjective identification with a support group (rather than simply support group membership per se) that positively affects the mental health of people with MS. Methods: 152 individuals with MS were recruited via UK MS support groups and completed a questionnaire. This included measures of support group identification, depression, anxiety and satisfaction with life, as well as control variables (education level and age). Results: Analyses revealed that, as hypothesised, support group identification was significantly linked to depression, anxiety and satisfaction with life. Moreover, group identification explained a significant amount of variance in addition to that explained by education and age on each health outcome. Repeating the analysis to compare each of the three main sub-types of MS revealed these effects to be present for individuals with Relapsing-Remitting (RR) and Primary Progressive (PP) MS, but not for those with Secondary Progressive (SP) MS. Conclusions: We suggest that identifying highly with an MS support group has important positive outcomes for MS patients’ mental health. This has implications for practicing clinicians: people with MS (particularly RRMS and PPMS) should be encouraged to engage with support groups, but more must be done to ensure they subjectively identify with these groups, rather than merely attend them.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Creators: Wakefield, J.R.H., Bickley, S. and Sani, F.
Publisher: Elsevier
Place of Publication: Philadelphia, PA
Date: 2013
Volume: 74
Number: 5
ISSN: 0022-3999
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1016/j.jpsychores.2013.02.002DOI
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:22
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:09
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11906

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