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CitationJ Nurs Scholarsh. 2008, 40(1):32-8
AbstractPurpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of a computer-mediated support group (CMSG) intervention for parents whose children had been diagnosed with cancer. Design and Methods: An evaluative one-group, before-and-after research design. A CMSG, an unstructured listserve group where participants used their E-mail for communication, was conducted over a 4-month period. Participation in the CMSG was offered to parents in Iceland whose children had completed cancer treatment in the past 5 years. Outcome measures were done: before the intervention (Time 1), after 2 months of intervention (Time 2) and after 4 months of intervention (Time 3) when the project ended. Measures included: demographic and background variables; health related vulnerability factors of parents: anxiety, depression, somatization, and stress; perceived mutual support; and use of the CMSG. Data were collected from November 2002 to June 2003. Twenty-one of 58 eligible parents participated in the study, with 71% retention rate for both post-tests. Findings: Mothers' depression decreased significantly from Time 2 to Time 3 (p<.03). Fathers' anxiety decreased significantly from Time 1 to Time 3 (p<.01). Fathers' stress decreased significantly from Time 2 to Time 3 (p<.02). To some extent, mothers and fathers perceived mutual support from participating in the CMSG. Both mothers and fathers used the CMSG by reading messages. Messages were primarily written by mothers. Conclusions:Study findings support further development of CMSGs for parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. Clinical Relevance: Using computer technology for support is particularly useful for dispersed populations and groups that have restrictions on their time. Computer-mediated support groups have been shown to be a valuable addition to, or substitute for, a traditional face-to-face mutual support group and might suit both genders equally.
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