Aims. This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of support groups for people caring for family members with intellectual disability with the goal of improving their physical-psychological health and social support. Background. Little is known about how differences in the support group context influence either the nature of the social support available to caregivers of family member with intellectual disabilities or the effects on caregivers' physical-psychological health in eastern cultures. Design. An experimental, preintervention postintervention control group design was used in this study. Methods. The experimental group received intervention consisting of eight weekly support group meetings for caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities. A total of 72 participants were recruited by permuted block randomisation and evaluated before intervention, after intervention and at four-week follow-up. Participants were blinded to the arrangement. Longitudinal effects were analysed by means of generalised estimating equations. Results. (1) Physical-psychological health (somatic, depressive and anxiety symptoms) of participants in the experimental group was significantly improved after the intervention and four-week follow-up. (2) After the support group, the experimental group scored better than the control group on measures of social support (positive social interaction, emotional, informational and material social support). At four-week follow-up, the differences between the two groups persisted except for positive social interaction support, suggesting a continued positive effect of the support group on caregivers of family members with intellectual disabilities. Conclusions. The results of this study confirm the experimental hypotheses that caregivers benefit from participating in support group interventions. Relevance to clinical practice. The support group is an effective alternative intervention for promoting caregivers' physical-psychological health status as well as their social support. Therefore, the support group should become a routine component of the caregiver of people with intellectual disabilities.
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