Inclusion of a close family member (e.g., the spouse) in psychosocial interventions for chronic illness may be more efficacious than focusing solely on the patient. This article reviews and synthesizes randomized, controlled studies designed to address this question (k = 12) with various illness populations (heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain, and Type 2 diabetes). For patients, 5 out of 12 studies showed consistent evidence that a family-oriented approach was more beneficial than patient-oriented intervention, whereas 1 study showed that patient intervention provided an advantage over family intervention. In the remaining studies, the more efficacious approach depended on patient gender, the use of cognitive-behavioral intervention strategies, and the time of follow-up assessment. Benefits for family members were rarely assessed, with 1 study showing an advantage for couples intervention. Carefully designed studies are needed to evaluate the benefits of this psychosocial treatment approach, for both the patient and the family member.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health