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Part 4: Practical Guidance on Navigating Support Groups

Featuring Richard Huggins, MD |

Member of the board of directors at the Global Vitiligo Foundation 
Detroit, MI

| Published June 24, 2024

In this Topical Conversations special edition 4-part series, Richard Huggins, MD, dermatologist and member of the board of directors at the Global Vitiligo Foundation, is joined by Amaris Geisler, MD, Katie O’Connell, MS, and Tonja Johnson of the Beautifully Unblemished Vitiligo Support Group, to discuss their publication on the importance of vitiligo patient support groups and how these groups can provide value to both patients and providers. 

In Part 4, the group gives an overview of the tips and resources detailed in their paper on starting and running a successful vitiligo support group. 

Insights from a patient and support group leader 

Tonja Johnson, patient advocate and executive director of the Beautifully Unblemished Vitiligo Support Group, shares her experiences and advice for those interested in starting a vitiligo support group. She emphasizes the importance of perseverance and patience, acknowledging the challenges but highlighting the potential for success in fostering a supportive community for patients with vitiligo. 

Practical guidance on support group management 

The conversation also highlights the comprehensive nature of the group’s publication, covering the background of support groups and previous research showing the positive impact of support groups on patient mental health. The manuscript includes detailed appendices with information on support group development processes, meeting agendas, legal considerations, promotion strategies, member engagement, and retention techniques. 

Key takeaways for support group leaders 

They also discuss the valuable resources and guidance for support group leaders detailed in their publication, including practical tips on running meetings, handling group dynamics and disagreements, promoting the group, recruiting new members, and maintaining member engagement and retention.

For more on vitiligo support groups, check out the rest of the series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


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