Psychosocial support program for families with children where a parent or child has a life-threatening illness: an evaluation of its effect and implementation in clinical practice

When a member of a family with children suffers from a life-threatening or life-limiting illness, the whole family is affected. However, despite this, there is little research that evaluates support for these families. This study aims to evaluate a psychosocial support program in clinical practice, "The Family Talk Intervention" (FTI), for families with children where a parent or child is seriously ill.

The study has a hybrid design, where both the effect of the intervention and the process for its implementation in clinical practice will be studied. The FTI support program is planned for use in three different care contexts: specialised palliative care where a parent is seriously ill, cancer care where a parent is ill, and paediatrics where a child is seriously ill. A cluster randomised study will be conducted at six clinics offering specialised palliative home care (3 units = intervention, 3 units = control).

In parallel, the FTI will be implemented at a university hospital within both adult cancer care and paediatrics. Counsellors at the clinics will undergo training in the FTI during 2021. From 2022, the FTI will be offered to families with children who are being cared for in these clinical contexts.

The FTI is manual-based and consists of six meetings with the family (in groups and individually) led by FTI-trained counsellors. The FTI aims to support the family in talking about the illness and what it entails (e.g. talking about prognosis, stress), support the parents in seeing and meeting the children’s needs, and support the family in identifying their strengths and how they can use them.

The FTI will be evaluated using questionnaires and interviews with families and counsellors. This will be done before the FTI/baseline and after the end of the intervention (3 and 6 months after the baseline). The research group has previously conducted pilot studies using the FTI in these contexts with positive results. This study is the next step in the evaluation of the FTI where the intervention will be evaluated under real life conditions.

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About the project:

Project group/collaborators:
Time period: 2021-2024
Research area: Palliative Research Centre
Project status: Ongoing
Financier: The Swedish Cancer Society, The Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund

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Last updated:
4 January 2022