Group Formation, Participant Retention, and Group Disbandment in a Men's Mutual Help Organization

Eric S. Mankowski
Kenneth I. Maton
Christopher K. Burke
Sharon Hoover Stephan

DOI: 10.2190/SH.8.1.h


Representatives of an international men's peer-led mutual help organization were surveyed to determine rates of group formation and disbandment, rates of individual participation and retention, and factors associated with long lasting and effective groups. From 1990 to 1998, the organization's center gained a net of about 3 groups and 22 members per year. Median survival time of groups was estimated to be 4 1/2 years. Over 60% of the groups disbanded within 3 years of formation. Groups perceived to be more effective and that were initiated early in the history of the organization were much less likely to disband. Members most commonly dropped out of a group because of time conflicts and difficulty traveling to meetings. Older members were less likely to drop out of a group. Implications of the findings for the survival and development of mutual help groups and organizations are discussed.

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