Finding a support group

Before joining a support group, consider what type of group might suit you best. For some people, a small, intimate group may offer a feeling of security, while others may prefer a larger group where they're allowed anonymity. Health care specialists advise trying various settings to find a group where you'll feel most comfortable.

Also consider whether you'd prefer to have a medical professional or a layperson leading the group. A medical professional, such as a nurse or psychologist, can lend an educational element to the group, while a disease survivor brings real-life perspective to the discussions.

Time is another consideration for people joining a support group. Some groups offer open memberships so members can join freely and there's no expectation of regular participation; this may serve well those having a disease who may not be able to attend regularly. Other groups are closed, where people preregister and members are encouraged at the onset to commit to a minimum number of sessions.

Privacy is a major concern for people joining a support group. Members should discuss at the outset whether the information they share is private.