What is the ideal support group? Views of Australian people with cancer and their carers

Phyllis N. Butow*, Laura T. Kirsten, Jane M. Ussher, Gerard V. Wain, Mirjana Sandoval, Kim M. Hobbs, Katharine Hodgkinson, Annie Stenlake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To explore views on the ideal structure and process of support groups for cancer patients.

Patients and methods: From 184 cancer support groups identified in NSW, Australia, 50 were randomly selected within strata of five variations in group structure: homogenous versus heterogenous participants; urban versus rural; community versus hospital setting, leader with cancer experience or not; and with professional training or not. Four hundred and seventy-six group members completed a questionnaire.

Results: Participants valued being with others like them, gaining information about cancer and having an effective leader. Groups were seen to be currently failing people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and links with oncology health professionals were inadequate. Few clear preferences for structure were expressed, except for the non-exclusion of those with a poor prognosis. Patients tended to prefer the structure of their own group, but patients longer since diagnosis, those with better informal support and carers preferred to meet in the community setting, while men with prostate cancer preferred a medical setting.

Conclusions: Some suggestions for group structure and process can be made on the basis of these findings; however, individual variation suggests that a needs analysis should be made by individual groups. Copyright (C) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1045
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • support groups
  • patient views
  • ideal process and structure


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