Living in the community following brain injury can often result in isolation and depression in individuals who no longer possess the capacity to seek help via appropriate means. Support groups are frequently organized in the community in order to diminish these feelings of isolation and provide assistance through group discussion forums.
Studies examining the efficacy of support groups typically examine emotive feelings and psychosocial issues amongst patients. Aggression is an issue for many patients, Aboulafia-Brakha et al. (2013) revealed that patients were able to reduce aggressive tendencies and regain control of their emotions much more effectively after group anger management therapy. However, improvements were not observed until the course was completed in full; thus, patients need to ensure that they complete therapy in its entirety in order to benefit. Additional studies explored the use of support groups (Armengol 1999; Hibbard et al. 2002; Mitchell & Veitch 2014; Ownsworth et al. 2000). Based on these studies, the support groups resulted in significant improvements in feelings of hopelessness, self-efficacy and being vocationally active (Armengol 1999), quality of life (Hibbard et al. 2002; Mitchell & Veitch 2014), life satisfaction (Mitchell & Veitch 2014), coping with depression (Hibbard et al. 2002), and improving psychosocial functioning and self-awareness (Ownsworth et al. 2000). Social issues discussed during family focus groups were investigated by Straits-Troster et al. (2013) who revealed a need to rebuild relationships, reduce isolation and develop coping skills. By increasing socialization amongst their peers, the patients were able to improve their communication skills which may be a potential format for future support group methodologies.
There is currently only low level evidence for the use of support groups in an ABI population; however, they appear to be an excellent vehicle for dissemination of information regarding living in the community with an ABI and provide direction to other resources if warranted. There is a need for further evaluation of these groups in order to define the most effective design of these programs.
There is Level 4 evidence that support groups generate positive results such as improving feelings of hopelessness, coping with depression, reducing aggression, and improving psychosocial functioning.
Support groups generate such positive results, such as diminished feelings of hopelessness, coping with depression, and better psychosocial functioning.