More research needed to involve families in psychosocial interventions

April 30, 2007

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 aren't 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 patient's 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 patient's health is greatly improved.

A patient's chronic illness also has been shown to impact the psychological and physical well-being of the patient's caregiver. Researchers have attempted to incorporate a family member into the psychosocial component of the patient's 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 haven't 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 need to carry out well-designed studies that allow us to draw stronger conclusions."

In a review of the scientific literature, the University of Pittsburgh researchers found that in 70 studies that compared a family-oriented psychosocial intervention to usual medical care alone, the family-oriented interventions had a small but promising effect on the emotional well-being of the patient and family member. A second literature review of 12 studies that compared patient-oriented psychosocial interventions to family-oriented interventions showed varying results, according to a number of factors, including disease, gender and type of intervention.

The University of Pittsburgh researchers say these findings suggest that future research into family interventions should attempt to target interactions that promote or derail healthy behaviors and incorporate strategies from family caregiver interventions.

"We have a lot to learn about how to involve families in the treatment of specific chronic illnesses," said Dr. Martire. "We know that psychosocial interventions can help. We just need to figure out the best methods to truly make a difference in the health of both the patients and their families."
-end-
CONTACT: Wendy Zellner, ZellnerWL@upmc.edu
PHONE: (412) 647-3555
FAX: (412) 624-3184

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.