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Is it beneficial to involve a family member? A meta-analysis of psychosocial interventions for chronic illness.
Links between chronic illness and family relationships have led to psychosocial interventions targeted at the patient's closest family member or both patient and family member. The authors conducted a meta-analytic review of randomized studies comparing these interventions with usual medical care (k=70), focusing on patient outcomes (depression, anxiety, relationship satisfaction, disability, and mortality) and family member outcomes (depression, anxiety, relationship satisfaction, and caregiving burden). Among patients, interventions had positive effects on depression when the spouse was included and, in some cases, on mortality. Among family members, positive effects were found for caregiving burden, depression, and anxiety; these effects were strongest for nondementing illnesses and for interventions that targeted only the family member and that addressed relationship issues. Although statistically significant aggregate effects were found, they were generally small in magnitude. These findings provide guidance in developing future interventions in this area.