In the seven years of data collection from 2009 to 2016, 77 unique individuals attended the retreat, 22 of these individuals for multiple years. Of the unique individuals, 66 (86%) completed at least one questionnaire during their first year at the retreat. Over the course of the retreat participants showed statistically significant improvements on five of the seven measures used, with improvements in self-esteem, hopefulness, and quality of life and decreases in depression and social anxiety.
These findings suggest that the Angel Faces retreat had a measurable and significant positive impact on several different dimensions of psychosocial wellbeing at the time of the retreat. Furthermore, although only a small subset of the participants (n=19) completed a follow up questionnaire three months after the retreat, the results suggested that the increases in hopefulness and quality of life as well as the decreases in depression, difficulties, and social- anxiety were maintained over a longer period of time.
Going forward, the program plans to continue to collect evaluation data, with increased efforts to improve the completion rate of follow-up questionnaires.
Shawna Hoagland, who lives in Spring Valley, CA, and is finishing a master’s degree in social work, attended the retreat in 2008 and 2009. She has had around 30 surgeries because of a facial birth defect. “I definitely saw those results in my life after attending Angel Faces,” said Hoagland. “For me, my biggest issues were low self-esteem, which led to feeling down, and feeling alone because I didn’t know anyone else dealing with a body difference.”
After attending her first retreat, she said, she never felt alone again. “I made lifelong friends who had been through similar things and experiences,” she said.
To make sure the retreat keeps up with the latest developments in the psychological treatment of trauma, the Angel Faces board has created a scientific advisory board which will meet regularly and provide input on research and program evaluation.
Continued analysis of data is under the direction of Michael Murphy, Ph.D from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Murphy serves as a Board Member for Angel Faces.