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Is It Beneficial to Involve a Family Member in Psychosocial Interventions?

A recent study analyzed 70 randomized studies that compared interventions with usual medical care to interventions targeting patients’ closest family member or both patient and family member.  For patients, interventions that involved spouses had positive effects on depression and, in some cases, on mortality.  For family members, these interventions had positive effects for caregiving burden, depression and anxiety.  Information about this study can be found in:

Martire, L.M., Lustig, A.P.,  Schulz, R.,  Miller, G.E., and Helgeson, V.S. (2004).  Is It Beneficial to Involve a Family Member?  A Meta-Analysis of Psychosocial Interventions for Chronic Illness, Health Psychology, 23, 599-611.

Figueiredo, M.I. Fries, E., & Ingram, K.M. (2004).

The role of disclosure patterns and unsupportive social interactions in the well-being of breast cancer patients. Psycho-oncology, 13, 96-105.

These authors investigated the potential effects of disclosure and unsupportive social interactions with sixty-six early stage breast cancer patients. The most important concerns were fears of recurrence and worries about the effects of the illness on family. Failure to disclose concerns was related to low social support, high unsupportive social interactions, and low emotional well-being. Minimizing or distancing were the types of unsupportive responses most frequently reported.

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