Participation in social support groups may improve disease outcomes in elderly patients. That is according to a recent study published in The Journal of Aging and Health, “The Relation of Social Isolation, Loneliness, and Social Support to Disease Outcomes Among the Elderly.”
The study, which surveyed more than 750 New Mexico seniors, asked questions related to demographics, social isolation and loneliness, social support, and disease diagnosis including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, arthritis, emphysema, tuberculosis, kidney disease, cancer, asthma, and stroke. Correlational and logistical analyses were then applied to survey responses.
What researchers found was that belongingness support, often found in disease-related support groups, related most consistently to health outcomes, thus demonstrating the importance of social support in predicting disease outcomes.
For people living with emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), support groups are often recommended as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan. That is because these groups bring together people in similar circumstances and offer individuals with emotional comfort, moral support and practical advice from others facing the same disease or illness.
According to The Mayo Clinic, support groups can also reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression and anxiety, improve coping skills and insight feelings of empowerment and control over one’s disease.
For more information on support groups, including locating a group near you, contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Online support groups are also available via chat rooms, blogs and social networking sites.