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More research needed to involve families in psychosocial interventions

PITTSBURGH, April 30 -- Family-oriented psychosocial interventions seem to be beneficial in improving the mental and physical well-being of both patients with chronic illness and their family members, but the results arent as robust as researchers had hoped. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh say more research is needed to improve such interventions in a study published in the April issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Prior studies have found that supportive and non-supportive actions by family members are linked with a patients emotional well-being, health behaviors, immune function, blood pressure and illness events. When psychosocial and behavioral interventions such as patient education, support groups and cognitive behavioral therapies are integrated into care for chronic illness, the patients health is greatly improved.

A patients chronic illness also has been shown to impact the psychological and physical well-being of the patients caregiver. Researchers have attempted to incorporate a family member into the psychosocial component of the patients care in an attempt to bolster the effects the interventions have on the patient while also benefiting the caregiver. By looking at a number of published studies on the topic, the current study found that the impact of involving a family member had smaller effects than expected.

There are volumes of anecdotal evidence about how including a family member in care and psychosocial interventions can improve the mental and physical health of both the patient and family member. For a number of reasons, researchers havent been able to demonstrate consistent results across studies, said Lynn M. Martire, Ph.D., of the department of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. However, the small effects that have been shown overall make for a compelling argument that we n
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Contact: Jocelyn Uhl Duffy
UhlJH@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
30-Apr-2007


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