Examining the Utility of Sister Circle Based CBT Interventions with Black Pregnant and Postpartum Women
Background: Sister circles are support groups that build upon existing friendships, fictive kin networks, and the sense of community found among Black females (Neal-Barnett et al., 2011). They provide safe spaces for discussion. Research has utilized sister circle interventions to address and target anxiety, stress, obesity, sexual risk vulnerability, and health risk factors related to chronic disease (Williams et al., 2012). Methods: Our study examined the utility of using sister circles in a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention for reducing stress and anxiety with low-income Black pregnant and postpartum women using a qualitative framework. Ten structured focus groups discussions (N=26) were conducted at the end of 7-week culturally-adapted interventions. Focus group discussion questions explored participant experiences. Discussion transcripts were open-coded and selective coded by undergraduate research assistants. Results: Open coding analyses indicated that participants viewed their experience as one that challenged their comfort levels and consistently provided them with learning opportunities. Participants also reported feelings of support, enhanced knowledge of stress, individual growth, and increased personal confidence. Common reported critiques included lack of participation from other participants, and a desire for decreased generalization with certain activities. Selective coding analyses indicated that several participants’ comments explicitly discussed learning skills and feasibility aspects of the intervention. Sixty-six statements were related to participant identified benefits and takeaways. Forty-two comments were related to the structure of the intervention. Conclusions: Our research underscores the utility of using sister circles in vulnerable populations. Future research should explore utilizing this intervention in other settings.