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Title:Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together? The Relationship Between Personal Background Characteristics and Participation in a Mutual-Help Group
Author(s):McFadden, Lisa Sharon
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rappaport, Julian
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Health Sciences, Mental Health
Psychology, Social
Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:The significance of personal background characteristics for participation in a mutual-help group is debated by observers of these groups. Some contend that these characteristics are relatively unimportant, and that sharing a problem is the essential factor. Others suggest that the observed demographic homogeneity of these groups implies that such factors do influence participation. The current study, an empirical analysis of participation in a mental health mutual-help group called GROW, examines the relative importance of personal background and group characteristics with respect to a person's participation in the group. Personal background characteristics include occupational status, education, age, marital status, and level of psychological functioning. Group size and demographic congruence were the group characteristics examined, where demographic congruence is how well a person matches the demographic characteristics of others in their group. Observers interviewed group participants to obtain demographic information. Three specific aspects of participation were examined: (1) how much the person participated, i.e., talking, bringing up problems, attending, and meeting with others between group meetings, (2) reciprocity of helping, i.e., how much they helped and how much they requested help, and (3) how accepted the group made them feel. Data on participation was collected by ten observers who recorded, comment by comment, each individual's interactions in the problem-solving parts of GROW meetings in fifteen GROW group locations over a twenty-seven month period. Personal background characteristics significantly predicted helping, requesting help, and how accepted a person felt. Group size was a significant predictor of length of attendance and the average number of problems a person raised at meetings. Demographic congruence uniquely predicted whether or not a person became a committed GROW member, how much a person spoke, and the number of group members with whom they had contact between meetings. These results are discussed in terms of (1) the current debate on the role of such characteristics in mutual-help group participation, and (2) their usefulness in guiding referring clinicians and the mutual-help group leaders.
Issue Date:1993
Description:197 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9411715
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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