Stress and anxiety management group for GEM inpatient rehabilitation: A pilot study

Miss Taylor Crotch2, Mr James Naismith1, Ms Melissa Mew1, Dr Danielle Hitch2

1Barwon Health, North Geelong, Australia, 2Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

Aim: Some Geriatric Evaluation & Management (GEM) inpatients struggle to engage in therapy due to stress and anxiety impacting on rehabilitation outcomes. Literature suggests older adults benefit from relaxation interventions to alleviate anxiety and depression, however, benefits and feasibility of these interventions are unclear in the current healthcare climate.  This pilot study aimed to evaluate a 6 week trial of a 2 week relaxation and stress management group program jointly run by occupational therapy and clinical psychology staff on a 34 bed subacute GEM ward.

Method:  A convenience sample was evaluated using mixed methods.  Patients’ pre-post Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales were analysed using descriptive statistics.  Patient surveys administered post program and staff surveys administered post 6 week trial were analysed thematically and triangulated.  Rosalind Franklin Qualitative Research Appraisal Tool was used for rigor.

Results: Patients’ anxiety improved from 45% normal (18% mild and 36% moderate) pre-group (n=11) to 71% normal (14% moderate and 14% severe) post group (n=7).  Similarly, depressive symptoms improved from 45% normal (9% mild, 45% moderate) to 71% normal (0% mild, 29% moderate).   Patients (n=8) reported positively in terms of satisfaction, content, environment, social benefits, timing of group and self management of anxiety.  Staff (n=4) were also positive but uncertain regarding impact of group on client rehabilitation outcomes. Results were confounded with 4 patients lost to follow up, group cancellations and inadequate marketing.  One patient deteriorated, however cause was unclear.

Significance of the findings to Allied Health: Preliminary results look promising.  Further work is planned to refine the group, logistical processes and re-evaluate.