Hopkinson, J.B., Brown, J.C., Okamoto, I., & Addington-Hall, J.M. (2012). The effectiveness of patient–family carer (couple) intervention for the management of symptoms and other health-related problems in people affected by cancer: A systematic literature search and narrative review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 43, 111–142.doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.03.013
To review patient–family psychosocial interventions in cancer care on physical, psychological, social, and quality-of-life effects
To evaluate associated theoretical models and measured effects
Dyad-focused nonpharmacologic interventions may improve coping and emotional support. High attrition related to the practical burdens associated with trial participation and care of a seriously ill patient impact the design and conduct of RCTs to test these interventions, but adverse events are few. Interventions that promote interactions within the dyad are more likely to have a measurable effect on emotional health outcomes than those targeted to a single member of the pair. Few studies are theory-based.
Dyadic interventions that promote interaction appear to be beneficial to impact anxiety, depression, and distress in patients with cancer and the family members who care for them.
The review was limited to English language studies.
High attrition rates in studies imply that it is important to match the intensity/complexity of an intervention with the dyad’s ability/willingness to participate fully, or risk drop out. Further theory development and testing are needed to guide design and conduct of future studies in this area.