Objective: A 3-day residential body awareness program (BAP) was developed to teach people with chronic a-specific psychosomatic symptoms (CAPS) to react adequately to disturbances of the balance between a daily workload and the capacity to deal with it. The long-term effects of the program on body awareness, psychological factors, psychosomatic symptoms and quality of life for people with CAPS are presented in this study.
Methods: A pre-post design is used with post-measures 2 and 12 months after the program, without controls (n = 122). Mean age is 42.5 (S.D. = 9.0) and 60% is female.
Results: The results showed an increase of body awareness, self-efficacy, expression of emotions and quality of life. Stress-related symptoms decreased and the attribution style was found to be less depressive. Participants achieved significantly higher levels of functioning at 2 months which increased significantly more at 12 months. The majority of the measured changes can be interpreted as clinically relevant outcomes with medium-to-large effect sizes. Spouses of the participants also confirm the found effects.
Discussion and conclusion: Evaluation of the BAP gives evidence to conclude that this program leads to the theoretically expected long-term effects in CAPS. Participants react more adequately to disturbances between daily workload and the capacity to deal with this load. Two and 12 months after the 3-day program, they are more capable of self-management in coping with stress and psychosomatic symptoms. Practice implications: This article sheds new light on the difficulties that individuals with psychosomatic symptoms and their professional interventionists encounter when attempting to manage the chronicity of the problems. By paying more attention to learning self-management by increasing body awareness and self-efficacy, patient educators may be able to increase their effectiveness. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.