Better living with illness: transdiagnostic approaches to psychological interventions for people with chronic illness
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Objective: Chronic physical health problems are on the rise. Psychological interventions can play a role in helping people cope with the challenges that long term physical conditions brings. This thesis systematically reviewed the literature for group psychological interventions. Following this, an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group intervention for people living with a range of long term physical conditions was designed and evaluated. Methods: Key databases were searched for relevant randomized-controlled studies. Papers that met inclusion criteria were quality assessed, and a meta-analysis was conducted. Participants with chronic physical health conditions were invited to an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group (n=53). Measures were completed at assessment, pre, post and 3-month follow-up. These assessed anxiety and depression symptoms, health perceptions, values-based living and psychological flexibility. Assessment to pre-intervention served as a within-participant control. Results: 22 relevant studies were retrieved, with 18 rated as acceptable or high quality and 14 included in a meta-analysis. The majority of studies reported interventions as efficacious at reducing mental health problems, though effect sizes were weaker when compared to active controls such as education. In the Acceptance and Commitment therapy group, depression and anxiety symptoms reduced significantly from pre to post, compared to control period. Conclusions: Group psychological interventions may be beneficial for people with physical health problems. In particular, group-based ACT interventions may be effective with this population and can be delivered transdiagnostically for a range of physical conditions.