Aim: This qualitative study aimed to explore group facilitators' perceptions of the attributes contributing to the effectiveness of group-based chronic disease self-management education programs.
Methods: Fourteen group facilitators across a range of disciplines (dietitians, nurses, exercise physiologists, social workers and physiotherapists) individually participated in semistructured interviews, which explored facilitators' awareness of the theoretical basis of the programs they implement, their experiences of implementation and their opinions on the attributes contributing to program effectiveness. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic content analysis and seeking patterning of responses.
Results: Group facilitators were uncertain about the evidence base and theoretical development of their programs, and very few were offered any formal training prior to facilitating group education programs. Additionally, the outcome measures used by the group facilitators were limited. Group interactions, a non-didactic delivery style, a multidisciplinary team, and using practical activities, were highlighted as attributes contributing to group program effectiveness.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that group facilitators had limited training and were unaware of the rationale for their programs, which may limit quality control. Health professionals should have an understanding of the basis of their program and be adequately trained prior to facilitating group education programs for chronic disease management. Group facilitators should additionally ensure a focus on the collection of suitable outcome measures to allow the quality improvement of programs in order to improve patient outcomes.