Support Group

Support Group

PEP Topic 
Sleep-Wake Disturbances
Description 

Support group interventions involve informal or structured peer group sessions that provide a forum for sharing experiences, information, etc., among peers. Support groups have been examined for effectiveness in patients with cancer for management of anxiety and sleep-wake disturbances.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Fobair, P., Koopman, C., DiMiceli, S., O'Hanlan, K., Butler, L. D., Classen, C., . . . Spiegel, D. (2002). Psychosocial intervention for lesbians with primary breast cancer. Psychooncology, 11, 427–438.

doi: 10.1002/pon.624
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Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

The intervention included twelve 90-minute meetings of a supportive-expressive group therapy led by a licensed clinical social worker; participants discussed problems, coping, treatment, mood, self-efficacy, relationships, pain, sleep, body image, and sexuality. Outcomes were emotional distress, mood, self-efficacy, body image, sexuality, social support, quality of life (QOL), pain, and sleep.

Sample Characteristics:

  • The sample comprised 20 patients with stage I to IIIA breast cancer.
  • Mean age was 47 years.
  • Patients were post surgery.

Setting:

Three community settings in Northern California

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

Patients were undergoing the active treatment phase of care.

Study Design:

The study used a one-group, pre-/posttest design.

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

Brief questionnaire based on the Structured Insomnia Interview to assess quality and quantity of sleep and daytime sleepiness

Results:

Patients undergoing 12 weeks of supportive group therapy showed statistically significant improvement in sleep (less waking during the night).

Limitations:

  • The study had a small sample size and lacked a control group.
  • Training is required to observe for unstable emotional status.
  • A licensed clinical social worker familiar with supportive-expressive group therapy is needed.
  • Cost is incurred for a space for the class and the instructor.

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