Friends United: An Evaluation of an Innovative Residential Self-Management Programme in Adolescent Rheumatology
Shaw, Karen L.
McDonagh, Janet E.
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Independence in activities of daily living, self-advocacy and peer support are important aspects of adolescent development. These skills are potentially affected by chronic rheumatic diseases and are worthy of attention by occupational therapists and other members of the multidisciplinary team. An innovative 4-day residential programme for young people diagnosed with chronic rheumatic disease, known as the ‘Independence Break’, was evaluated in order to determine its perceived benefits. The participants were invited to complete a brief evaluation form immediately after the trip to determine the benefits of participation in the programme. The levels of continuing social contact within the group were established 4 months later during a subsequent telephone call. Thirty young people (median age 14 years) attended the 4-day programme and reported friendship and improved performance in activities of daily living as the major benefits. The majority stayed in touch with at least one other person, with more girls staying in touch than boys. The preferred method of communication was text messaging. Overall, the programme was perceived to be a valuable experience and offered the young people an opportunity to develop informal peer support networks. The potential of text messaging within adolescent rheumatology is also highlighted.