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Browsing by Subject "G4H"

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  • Salakka, Saara (2023)
    Aims: Finnish university students experience increased loneliness and elevated psychological symptoms compared to the general population. Although there are many studies on interventions that aim to reduce loneliness for the elderly, there is still uncertainty about effective methods for the younger population. This study examines whether a new intervention focusing on social connectedness, Groups 4 Health (G4H), could reduce students’ loneliness and psychological symptoms, as well as increase group memberships, general well-being and mental well-being. This study also examines whether changes are maintained at three-month follow-up. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of the G4H intervention and compare the results with group counselling which was provided by educational psychologists. Methods: The data for this study was collected in 2022 as part of the pilot phase of the University of Helsinki's IMAGINE research project. University students (age: 19-53) either participated in the G4H intervention (n = 29) or in group counselling (n = 29). This study used self-report questionnaires on participants' loneliness, active group membership, general well-being, mental well-being, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and social anxiety symptoms. Participants' symptoms were assessed before the intervention, after the intervention and at one- and three-month follow-up. Changes in self report measures were examined using linear mixed models that adjusted for participants' gender, age, income, and total years of studying. Pairwise comparisons were performed as a further analysis. Results and conclusions: A statistically significant main effect of time was found in all questionnaires, with participants' ratings improving over the course of the study. Group-by-time interaction was found for the loneliness questionnaire, with G4H participants' loneliness decreasing more over time compared to group counselling. Active group memberships increased for G4H participants during the intervention, and the change was maintained at three-month follow-up. Positive changes in depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, general well-being and mental well-being occurred mainly between the end of the intervention and the last follow-up. Therefore, it is uncertain whether these changes were caused by the intervention or by other life events. Effect sizes measured from the beginning to the end of the study were at least medium (|d| = 0.6-1.64) in the G4H intervention. Overall, this study provided preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of the Groups 4 Health -intervention, particularly in reducing loneliness and increasing active group memberships. In addition, preliminary evidence was found for a gradual reduction in social anxiety symptoms over the course of the study. Due to small sample size, the results remain preliminary and further studies are needed.