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Benefits of a Brief Therapeutic Conversation Intervention for Families of Children and Adolescents in Active Cancer Treatment

Erla Kolbrun Svavarsdottir
Anna Olafia Sigurdardottir
ONF 2013, 40(5), E346-E357 DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.E346-E357

Purpose/Objectives: To test the effectiveness of a two-to-three session family therapeutic conversation intervention (FAM-TCI) for primary and partner caregivers of children and adolescents in active cancer treatment on perceived family support and on expressive family functioning.

Design: Quasiexperimental; one group pre- and post-test.

Setting: Inpatient cancer unit and a day treatment cancer unit at the Children's Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Sample: 19 parent caregivers (10 primary, 9 partner) of children in active cancer medical treatment.

Methods: The caregivers completed baseline measure questionnaires and were offered the first sessions of the FAM-TCI. About four to eight weeks later, the second session was administered and then the caregivers were offered a third session, if needed, one week later. When the caregivers had finished all sessions, they answered the same set of questionnaires about one week later.

Main Research Variables: The FAM-TCI for primary and partner caregivers, family support, and expressive family functioning.

Findings: Primary caregivers perceived significantly higher family support after the intervention compared to before. Those caregivers also reported significantly higher expressive family functioning and significantly higher emotional communication after the intervention. Partner caregivers, however, reported significantly lower verbal communication after the FAM-TCI compared to before.

Conclusions: Shortening hospital stays in pediatric oncology populations has focused attention on effective short-term psychosocial interventions. The FAM-TCI is promising as an effective short-term intervention but requires additional testing.

Implications for Nursing: The FAM-TCI strengthened pediatric oncology caregivers in their caregiving activities and was found to benefit primary caregivers regarding their perception of family support and expressive family functioning; therefore, the intervention might benefit future families of children and adolescents in active cancer treatment.

Knowledge Translation: The FAM-TCI was brief, easy to provide, and well fitted. Pediatric oncology nurses can offer brief, beneficial interventions to families of children and adolescents with cancer who are in active treatment. Knowing that primary caregivers experienced support and information may result in more effective evidence-based family care.

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