Factors affecting attendance and participation in group therapy in a private inpatient psychiatric setting.
This study seeks to understand why many patients did not participate in a group therapy programme offered at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Conducted by an Occupational Therapist, the study analyses a sample of inpatients’ perspectives, gathered via semi-structured interviews, of the factors that affect group therapy attendance and participation. The data was analysed qualitatively using thematic analysis. The results suggested that positive experiences and therapeutic outcomes, renewed hope and the helpful, supportive and non-judgemental nature of the group encouraged group therapy attendance and participation. These factors mirrored many of Yalom’s (2005) therapeutic factors. The following factors were found to hinder group therapy attendance: stigma, shame, a belief in the negative stereotypical portrayals of mental illness, physical pain, fatigue and negative side effects of medication. The findings were used to generate recommendations which could potentially be applied over a variety of clinical settings in order to increase group therapy attendance and participation and also enhance the therapeutic experience of the inpatient with a psychiatric illness.