Those directing the study divided the 24 adolescent girls and their parents involved in the study into two groups for the one-day intervention. One group began training in the new protocols immediately, while the second was "wait-listed" as a control group, though all eventually received the training.
While the on-site training lasted but a day, it was followed by six weeks of a web-based coping skills program, including weekly homework assignments and group chat sessions aimed at reinforcing the skills learned in the one-day intervention.
"We found the chat component was especially helpful," said McCormick, "because people's schedules sometimes get in the way of a group getting together. They were able in the chats to talk about their feelings and develop a very real sense of community. While there's a benefit to them being in the same room, the online community turned out to be very important. It's an isolating disease, and we hope they learned that their psychology plays an important role in how they feel physically."
While IBD is somewhat uncommon as diseases go, there have been few psychologically based interventions developed for adolescents with IBD.
"There are a lot of studies on medical based interventions," said Reed-Knight, "but for some people there may be a stigma with psychological intervention."
The experience of finding new ways to cope with IBD was an emotional one for both the adolescent girls and their parents.
"Many parents cried as they shared the story of their child's diagnosis," said McCormick. "But in doing so they really opened up. They so badly want to be able to take care of their children, but they often have a feeling that things are out of control. The
|Contact: Ronald Blount|
University of Georgia