Loughborough University
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Supporting self-help groups: an action research study based on the work of Nottingham Self-Help Groups Project between 1982 and 1983 carried out by the project worker

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posted on 2017-10-10, 10:12 authored by Judith M. Wilson
The Nottingham Self Help Groups Project (NSHGP) - an innovative approach to supporting self-help groups - was studied and evaluated for two years through the medium of participant action research. The project worker on the scheme doubled as the participant observer. The project's six objectives provided structure for the research, but this study is not simply an evaluation of its success. Rather, in this research, self help development is set in context; the need for change is identified examining too how changes were carried out; and specific aspects of the work are analysed. NSHGP concentrated on self-help /mutual aid groups - definitions are arguable - based on health issues. The literature review reveals the lack of similar studies, but demonstrates the need to study self-help in a broad context and to bring in related issues e.g. professional power. There is little evidence, however, of a self-conscious self-help movement in this country. Detailed analysis reveals the strengths and limits of the project. The growth of new groups was marked; the potential problems of professional involvement is discussed; and the usefulness of joint activities is demonstrated. Responsiveness to requests, rather than promotion of groups, seemed to work. While no other organisations - local or national offered identical help, the small size of the project meant not all needs were met. Without monitoring, evaluation and change the project could have been overwhelmed by its own initial success. The objectives set, however, were by and large appropriate at the time and were all fulfilled to a greater or lesser extent. NSHGP, it is suggested, is important both for pioneering new work and for the unusual research methods adopted. Of interest, also, are the issues raised about lay participation in health care. Finally, the study raises questions about the values of self-help and how these might be built into professional care.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Judith M. Wilson

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/

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A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy at Loughborough University.


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