The role and value of family therapy for people living with cancer: a rapid review of recent evidence


Forbat L (2020) The role and value of family therapy for people living with cancer: a rapid review of recent evidence. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care, 14 (3), pp. 263-269.

Purpose of review: Cancer impacts the whole family and relational system, not just the individual with the diagnosis. The present article identifies and reviews publications in the field of family therapy and cancer since 2019, to describe the theoretical models and techniques applied, and the outcomes achieved. Recent findings: A search of databases and grey literature led to the identification of five articles from four studies. Four papers described primary research and one summarized a case example. Papers were published by teams in the USA, Sweden and Iceland. Each article described the benefits of adopting a family therapy approach on outcomes such as family communication, bereavement and decreased carer burden. Four papers described specialist family therapists delivering the interventions, and one used oncology nurses drawing on the theories and techniques of family therapy. Summary: The rarity of family therapy publications in the past year reflects the individual-level approach to cancer which permeates both medicine and talking therapies. The utility of family therapy could be further surfaced through more large-scale studies which thoroughly describe the unique theoretical basis and techniques, alongside outcomes for multiple people within the family system.

cancer; family system; family therapy; psychological interventions; relationships

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: Volume 14, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/2020
Publication date online31/07/2020
Date accepted by journal30/06/2020
PublisherOvid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)