Health Soc Care Community. 2003 Jan;11(1):19-26
Peters TJ, Somerset M, Campbell R, Sharp DJ.
Division of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK, School of Social Science, Bath Spa University College, Bath, UK and Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
People who have chronic disabling conditions are frequently advised by health or social care practitioners to attend meetings organised specifically for individuals who have the same or similar health problems.
The purpose of the analyses described in the present paper was to ascertain the variables independently associated with attendance at meetings for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and amongst those who did attend, variables related to the level of perceived helpfulness.
A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 471 people with MS in eight randomly selected health authorities/boards across England and Scotland with the general aim of eliciting their preferences for and views of health and social care.
There were 318 respondents to this questionnaire (68%), 136 (43%) of whom had attended such a meeting.
Logistic regression and proportional odds regression models were used to investigate the relationships with the two outcomes of attendance and helpfulness for 23 explanatory variables drawn from the questionnaire.
The explanatory variables related to the following six broad areas: socio-demographic, illness-related, support, self-management, psycho-social factors and social function.
Just under half of the respondents reported that they had attended a meeting.
Half of these individuals found the last meeting that they had attended to be reasonably helpful, and one in five found it of no help.
The individuals who were more likely to have attended were aged 45-64 years, had been in contact with a health professional in the past 12 months and felt that they had the ability and means to access MS-related information.
The last meeting was considered more helpful by those who reported greater contentment with access to MS-related information and by those with mild depression.
These findings should be useful to health professionals who may consider recommending meetings to people with MS, and also to those who are engaged in ensuring that meetings are both attractive and relevant to all potential attendees.