IC support groups are not just for the patients. Spouses, family members, and others can also be encouraged to attend meetings so that they can learn more about the condition that is affecting their loved one. IC support group leaders are commonly also IC patients, but some groups are lead by nurses, physicians, or others who are dedicated to IC patient outreach. Other medical professionals may attend either as guest speakers or to answer questions that they may not have time to answer in a typical office appointment.

Support group members who struggle with lower health literacy due to education levels, economic levels, culture, and access to web-based literature will be attending your meetings. Cultural and age differences prevent people from challenging their health care providers in any way. Letting them know that it is okay for them to be their own self-advocate is an important lesson and one that may be difficult for some people to learn.

IC support groups are informational and not intended to be group therapy sessions. These groups are more successful when they are not monopolized by an IC patient seeking group therapy or support for mental health issues related to chronic illness. These types of groups are best left to professionals.

Revised Monday, August 31st, 2015