Interactions with close family members have consequences for the emotional and physical well-being of individuals who are dealing with a chronic physical illness. Therefore, inclusion of a close family member in psychosocial interventions for chronic illnesses is a logical treatment approach that has the potential to boost the effects of intervention on the patient and also benefit the family member. However, randomized, controlled studies indicate that such family-oriented interventions generally have small effects. The efficacy of these treatment approaches might be enhanced by targeting specific interactions that emerging research identifies as promoting or derailing healthy behaviors and by better incorporating strategies from family caregiver interventions. In addition, family-oriented interventions should be more fully evaluated, by assessing the benefits for both patients and family members. Future research in this area can tell us much about how and when to involve family in treatment of specific chronic illnesses and, in turn, may inform conceptual models of the impact of family interactions on health.
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