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Intervention to enhance empowerment in breast cancer self-help groups

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STANG I and MITTELMARK MB. Nursing Inquiry 2010; 17: 47–57

Intervention to enhance empowerment in breast cancer self-help groups

As arduous psychological reactions and loss of control almost inevitably represent a challenge for women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, a participatory intervention study was initiated that aimed to enhance empowerment in breast cancer self-help groups. Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer were invited to participate. The intervention encompassed three professionally led self-help groups running sequentially, each group for approximately 4 months. Each group of five to seven participants met weekly. Several empowerment strategies were initiated by two professional facilitators, aiming to promote empowerment processes and to manage stress. The participants experienced group participation as both empowering and as a valuable source of support, and although the group processes developed very differently, a strong sense of fellowship developed in all three groups. The discussion highlights the findings in relation to several theoretical perspectives including social capital, social cohesion, risky agreements, helper-therapy and power/empowerment. We conclude that empowerment strategies that are implemented in professionally led breast cancer self-help groups can contribute to participant empowerment and function as an important source of re-discovery and confirmation of the participants’ strengths and abilities.

Keywords: breast cancer; empowerment; health promotion; patient participation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Vestfold University College, Horten, Norway 2: University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Publication date: March 1, 2010


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