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J Spinal Cord Med. 2020 Jan 21:1-11. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2019.1710946. [Epub ahead of print]

Multiple family group intervention for spinal cord injury: Quantitative and qualitative comparison with standard education.

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Department of Psychology, Washington State University Spokane, Spokane, Washington, USA.
St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane, Washington, USA.
Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University Spokane, Spokane, Washington, USA.
College of Nursing, Washington State University Spokane, Spokane, Washington, USA.


Objective: To evaluate a Multiple Family Group (MFG) education and support intervention for individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and their primary caregivers. We hypothesized that MFG would be superior to an Education Control Group (EC) for improving patient activation and coping skills, social supports, and relationship functioning.Setting: A large free-standing inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation facility.Participants: Community dwelling adults with SCI and their caregivers living in the Northwest United States.Interventions/Methods: Nineteen individuals with SCI who had been discharged from inpatient rehabilitation within the previous three years, and their primary caregivers participated. Patient/caregiver pairs were randomized to the MFG intervention or an active SCI EC condition in a two-armed clinical trial design. Participants were assessed pre- and post-program and 6 months post-program. Qualitative and quantitative outcomes were evaluated. Focus groups were conducted with each group to determine benefits and recommendations for improvement.Results: Relative to EC, MFG reduced passive coping and increased subjective and overall social support in participants with SCI. Relative to EC, MFG also reduced passive coping in caregivers. Patient activation relative to EC was non-significantly increased. Content analysis identified four themes describing participants' experiences: enhanced sense of belonging, increased opportunities for engagement, knowledge, and team work; results that were generally congruent with quantitative measures of improved social support.Conclusions: Relative to EC, MFG assisted participants with SCI and their caregivers to manage the difficult, long-term, life adjustments by improving coping and strengthening social support.Trial registration: NCT02161913. Registered 10 June 2014.


Caregiver; Multiple family group treatment; Psycho-educational intervention; Spinal cord injury

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