Carer support groups: change mechanisms and preventive effects
One of the most important forms of aid and support for care-givers of dementia patients is the support group. Since their first introduction in the late 1970s these groups have become one of the main instruments of health care to support care-givers, to relieve their burden and to prevent the development of psychological problems. Although the support group is a widely spread method of supporting care-givers, little is known about its effects. The aim of this chapter is to discuss what is presently known about the effects and the way these effects are accomplished (change mechanisms). First, the method of the support group is discussed, what it is, what its aims are, the contents of the meetings and the themes that are discussed. Second, a review of the international literature about the effects of the group is presented. The third part of this chapter contains the report of a research project among participants of Dutch support groups in which the change mechanisms of the groups were examined.