Perceived benefits and difficulties experienced in a mutual support group for family carers of people with schizophrenia

Wai Tong Chien*, Ian Norman, David, R. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


In this qualitative study, the authors explore from the participants' perspective the benefits and difficulties experienced by participants in a mutual support group for Chinese family carers of patients with schizophrenia in Hong Kong. Thirty family carers and 10 patients who had participated in a 12-session mutual support group were interviewed, and the 12 group sessions were audiotaped for content analysis. Three main themes emerged from the data: (a) positive personal changes attributed to group participation, which included enhanced self-identity and acceptance of the caregiving role, increased knowledge of the illness, and adoption of new coping skills; (b) positive characteristics of the mutual support group, including the explicit group ideology and consensus, perceived social climate of the group, and informational support and empowerment; and (c) major inhibitors of group development, specifically low or irregular group attendance, negative pressure from dominant members, and overexpression of intense and negative feelings. These findings contribute to our understanding of the therapeutic components and limitations of mutual support groups for family carers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-981
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2006


  • Family carers
  • Mutual support group
  • Perceived benefits
  • Qualitative research
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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