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   Table of Contents      
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 272-276

The effect of social support skill-training group intervention on perceived social support in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder


1 Department of Psychiatry, Nursing School, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Medical.Surgical, Nursing School, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
3 Department of Psychiatric Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Date of Web Publication25-Jun-2018

Correspondence Address:
Fataneh Ghadirian
Department of Psychiatric Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery School, Nosrat St., Towhid Sq., Tehran
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_165_16

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  Abstract 


Background: Traumatic events related to war have long effects on psychiatric psychopathologies. From these disturbing conditions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered to be the most characteristic feature of psychiatric traumatic experience. The current study was designed to assess the effect of two social support skill-training group interventions on perceived social support in veterans with PTSD. Materials and Methods: The study was conducted with the clinical trial method. According to the inclusion criteria, 60 of 367 veterans with PTSD were selected and randomly allocated into two intervention groups and a control group. The two training programs on social support skills consisting of three sessions, each being 1.5–2 h, were held weekly for 3 weeks. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support was filled by samples before and 6 weeks after intervention. The data were analyzed by descriptive and analytical statistics using PASW Statistics 18. Results: The ANOVA results showed that after intervention, there were significant differences in perceived social support between intervention groups and control group (F = 1.06, p = 0.001), but there was no significant difference between intervention groups by t-test (t = 28.05, p < 0.10). The paired t-test showed a significant difference in all subscale scores of perceived social support between two intervention groups before and after intervention (p < 0.05). Conclusions: The results of the current study agreed with the positive effects of social support skill training on perceived social support in veterans with PTSD. It is suggested that these training courses should be included in the community re-entry programs of veterans with PTSD.

Keywords: Iran, posttraumatic stress disorder, social support, stress disorder, veterans


How to cite this article:
Sirati-Nir M, Khaghanizade M, Rahimi A, Khazaei M, Ghadirian F. The effect of social support skill-training group intervention on perceived social support in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Iranian J Nursing Midwifery Res 2018;23:272-6

How to cite this URL:
Sirati-Nir M, Khaghanizade M, Rahimi A, Khazaei M, Ghadirian F. The effect of social support skill-training group intervention on perceived social support in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Iranian J Nursing Midwifery Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 5];23:272-6. Available from: https://www.ijnmrjournal.net/text.asp?2018/23/4/272/234936




  Introduction Top


Traumatic events related to war have long effects on psychiatric psychopathologies. From these disturbing conditions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered to be the most characteristic feature of psychiatric traumatic experience.[1] The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version V (DSM-V) demonstrates that patients diagnosed with PTSD exhibit “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”.[2] Social functioning impairment is a very important and common clinical indicator of PTSD in veterans.[3] Studies have shown that PTSD symptoms such as hypersensitivity, withdrawal, jealousy, verbal abuse, and bizarre behavior can problematize social relationships of veterans. Relationship problems can have effects on PTSD complexities and damaged social support networks of these patients.[4],[5] The link between social support and PTSD has been well explained by Clapp and Beck in their article.[6]

Social support arises from personal relationships.[7] Laffaye et al. reported that the perceived social support can predict severity of PTSD symptoms.[5] Laffaye argued that interpersonal stressor is an important factor that damages the support received from relationships in veterans.[5] From the relational point of view, emotional management and communicative skills are important mediators to develop a social network desired by veterans. Doss et al. believed that relationship satisfaction in veterans can be predicted by communication and psychological distress. He stated that without these skills, other therapies, such as couple therapy, cannot be effective.[8]

Hogan systematically reviewed 100 studies that had evaluated the efficacy of social support interventions.[9] He stated that one category of these interventions was social support skill training, where there was a leader in the professional group and had a defined curriculum. He argued that although the results of this method were controversial, but, overall, the results of social support interventions showed that they were superior to no-treatment or standard care controls (39 of 100 reviewed articles).[9] Tedeschi recommended the design of a training program for facilitating posttraumatic growth in combat veterans that enabled them to develop ways of thinking and moved them toward a better level of functioning.[10]

Karlin stated that evidence-based psychological treatments for PTSD must be disseminated in the veterans' health administration. He believed that a workshop training, which could involve an ongoing consultation, skill mastery, and implementation, can be very useful for promoting discussion and patient motivation. He recommended that clinicians should engage in contextual exercises in veterans.[11]

Iranian studies that have assessed the social support in veterans have contradictory results. Few studies focused on social skills, especially on communication skills of the veterans. The studies that assessed the emotional-oriented interventions demonstrated the positive effects of the emotional management on mental well-being of the veterans.[12],[13] With regard to the contextual-based nature of perceived social support, the current study was designed to assess the effect of a social support skill-training group intervention on perceived social support in veterans with PTSD.


  Materials and Methods Top


The study is a clinical trial with IRCT2013112415512N1 code. It was conducted with quasi-experimental method and random allocation of samples among two experimental groups and a control group. After the approval of the study and in the first phase according to Cochrane formula and standard deviation of perceived social support scores in the related latest studies among Iranian veterans (standard deviation = 1.02),[14] with respect to 95% confidence interval, the primary sample size was estimated as 361. Samples were selected from a group of referees to a psychiatric ward of Baqiyatallah hospital in Tehran, Iran, in 2014. All the referred samples were male. According to study's inclusion and exclusion criteria by using convenient sampling, the study samples were selected. The inclusion criteria included a documented diagnosis of chronic PTSD, a maximum age of 60 years, non-psychotic comorbid, personality and substance abuse disorders, and different educational experience. Samples were excluded if they were reluctant or did not actively participate in learning activities. Finally, 367 veterans with PTSD were considered as study samples, and they filled out Social Function Scale (SFS). From these samples, 60 who had undesirable social function according to social function scale were selected and randomly allocated to case group 1, case group 2, and control group [Figure 1]. Sampling time lasted for 3 months—from February–April.
Figure 1: Sampling framework of the study

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The training program focused on communication skills and its promoting ways in group 1 and on emotional management skills in group 2. Weekly, three sessions of 1.5–2 h each were held for 3 weeks. These two modules were held based on life skills workbooks designed at welfare and rehabilitation organization [Table 1]. The programs were conducted by researchers with the didactic method. The sessions were guided to make an interactive and narrative atmosphere among group members. After these courses, cases were requested to record training activities and their results on daily report sheets for 6 weeks, and they were followed by telephonic discussion for 3 weeks after intervention.
Table 1: Schedule of two interventional programs

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The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) was filled by samples before and 6 weeks after intervention. The MSPSS assesses perceptions of social support adequacy from family, friends, and significant others.[15] It has 12 items with a 5-point Likert-type response format (1 = very strongly agree; 7 = very strongly disagree). MSPSS consists of three 4-item subscales: Family, Friends, and Significant others. Most investigations demonstrated good-to-excellent internal consistency and test–retest reliability. Wongpakaran stated that the Cronbach's alpha range is 0.92–0.94 in clinical samples.[16] Also, Iranian studies have used this scale. Chenari et al. revealed that Cronbach's alpha of MSPSS in Iranian veterans was 0.89.[14]

Data were analyzed with descriptive and analytical statistics by PASW Statistics 18. The normality of variables was tested by Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. Chi-Square test, t-test, and one-way ANOVA were used to compare demographics and perceived social support scores between three groups, before and after intervention. The significant level was considered to be less than 0.05 at all the tests.

Ethical considerations

The study was approved with the No. IR.BMSU.REC.1395.375 on March 9, 2016, by the ethical committee of the research deputy of the Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences. The participants were informed about the goal of the study, their anonymity, and their authority to continue participation. Also, information was provided to them if they requested and they filled the consent form.


  Results Top


The study samples' mean (standard deviation) age was 56 (3.50) years. Most of them in three groups were married, and based on Chi-square test, there were no significant differences among groups in educational status (χ2 = 0.68, p = 0.68), disability percent (χ2 = 1.30, p = 0.99), perceived social class status (χ2 = 1.68, df = 4, p > 0.05), and duration of treatment (χ2 = 13.41, p = 0.33) and PTSD diagnosis time span (χ2 = 4.15, p = 0.99).

The one-way ANOVA results showed that there was no significant difference in perceived social support scores among three groups before intervention (F = 0.36, p = 0.10). Also, there was a significant difference among intervention groups and control group after intervention (F = 1.06, p = 0.03), and there was no significant difference between intervention groups after intervention (t = 28.05, p = 0.52) [Table 2]. The paired t-test showed a significant difference in all subscales scores of perceived social support between before and after intervention in each intervention group (p < 0.05) [Table 3]. Also, the paired t-test did not show any significant difference before and after intervention in the control group (t = 0.69, p = 0.14). In the control group, the scores of perceived social support in three subscales decreased 6 weeks after intervention, but it was significant only at subscale of others (t = 0.05, p = 0.04).
Table 2: Comparison of mean scores of perceived social support among three groups before and 6 weeks after intervention

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Table 3: Comparison of perceived social support frequencies in subscales between intervention groups before and 6 weeks after intervention

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  Discussion Top


Results showed that after social support skill-training group intervention, overall perceived social support scores increased in the intervention groups and in each of the subscales, while they decreased in the control group.

Karlin et al. stated that the most interventional implementation used for war veterans is cognitive therapies. They believed that the value and importance of ongoing consulting and skill mastery is a good reason for it.[11] Some researchers stated that the veterans with PTSD experienced downtrend adaptive coping strategies; therefore, the implementation of cognitive–behavioral coping strategies can help them to bolster perceived social support.[17],[18]

From these interventions, there has been an increasing focus on intimate relationship problems in veterans with PTSD.[4] Relationship difficulties and complexities in veterans with PTSD are major themes of many studies in this scope. Therefore, many researchers focused on evidenced-based interventions that could improve communication skills to reduce the vicious cycle of aggression and the severity of PTSD symptoms.[11],[19] Regarding support resources, Jlusic et al. stated that perceived family and friends support is higher in veterans without PTSD than in veterans with PTSD, and the support received from friends and fellows decreased over time in the PTSD-diagnosed group.[20] Harris et al. stated that the group intervention in veterans with PTSD can be effective because it makes a connection among them and facilitates their communication. Therefore, it can provide a support group.[21]

In the emotional processing theory for managing PTSD, emotional responses are significant. Some believed that negative emotional responses, such as hostility, aggression, and fear, can aggravate situation complexity in veterans with PTSD. King et al. stated that these emotional problems had adverse effects on the quality and quantity of accessible social support resources.[22] Dekle and Monson stated that emotional numbing, which reflects on the ability of those with PTSD to experience and express a range of feelings, can affect the attachment with family and friends.[3] Moreover, neuroscience researchers stated that negative emotions such as anger and guilt increase the averseness of flashbacks and prompt ruminative responses in veterans with PTSD.[23] It is believed that emotional restructuring is vital. Sloan et al. stated that the emotional representation of PTSD in interventional implementations can effectively reduce depression symptom severity in patients.[24] Recent research explains that there is a relational regulation mechanism between mental health and perceived social support.[25],[26] The small sample size is the most serious limitation of the study. Also, considering a center to select the study's samples limited the generalization of the results of the current study.


  Conclusion Top


The results of the current study agreed with the positive effects of the social support skill training focused on communication and emotional skills on perceived social support in veterans with PTSD. It is recommended that the effects of the social support skill training on long-lasting variables such as social function or social relationships of the veterans with PTSD should be assessed.

Acknowledgements

This article is derived from a master thesis affiliated to the Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, and the registered code number in the Deputy of Research is 375. The authors would like to offer their sincere appreciation to all the hospital authorities and the veterans with PTSD who participated in this research.

Financial support and sponsorship

Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences.

Conflicts of interest

Nothing to declare.



 
  References Top

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    Figures

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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