Support groups for women with lymphatic filariasis in Haiti
Social, Economic and Behavioural Research. Report Series No.2
By Jeannine Coreil, Ph.D, Gladys Mayard, MS, and David Addiss, MD
An experimental study of support groups for women with lymphatic filariasis was conducted in Leogane, Haiti, in 1998–2001 to assess the applicability of the chronic disease support group model in a developing country setting. Five groups organized in urban and rural communities were evaluated over a two-year period to determine factors which influence participation and to assess the impact of the intervention on illness management and outcomes. The research design consisted of longitudinal monitoring of process variables and a case-control study of members and geographic controls.
Process evaluation documented high levels of participation and enthusiasm among participants. Analysis of survey data collected in 1999 and 2000 demonstrated benefits from support group participation in the areas of quality of life, understanding of the disease, home care practices, and illness symptoms. Sustainability of the support group program was evidenced by the continuity of group functioning during periods of resource scarcity, the ability of the program to secure extended support for four years, and the integration of support groups into local and national filariasis control programs. The findings offer lessons for the application of the support group model to other health problems and regions of the world.