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Family Members’ Support for Chronically Ill

In one respect, the support of close family members actually can benefit chronically ill people by creating a friendly environment in which they have a chance to relax. On the contrary, Martire & Schulz (2007) mention that randomized controlled studies do not show any considerable effect of such psychosocial interventions. A possible reason for this is the lack of mutual understanding between all parties, that is, the patient, the medical practitioner(s), and the family. Tiearra has given the relatives’ attitude to physicians, whom they may consider incompetent, as a valid example, but this is not the only possible challenge. It would be relevant to add, in particular, that the relationships within the family may be abrasive, in which case the constant presence of relatives demotivates and suppresses the patient rather than inspires.

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A social worker must develop a relationship of trust with the patients nearest. The emotional well-being of a chronically ill individual, on which physical is partly dependent, correlates with that of the people around him or her. Meanwhile, according to Golics et al. (2013), the sphere of emotions is the first to be influenced by illness. The task, therefore, does not lie simply in reassuring and comforting; being trustworthy is essential.

This does presuppose understanding the values, needs, strengths, and challenges of the particular family, but it is worth noting that a relationship is mutual by definition. Simply stated strategies that aim at presenting the social worker as a personality that the family members find appropriate would be helpful as well. Among those is not solely presenting qualifications or others, but also searching for points of intersection, which is especially important in case the relationship between the patient and the relative lacks warmth.

References

Golics, C. J., Basra, M. K., Finlay, A. Y., & Salek, S. (2013). The impact of disease on family members: A critical aspect of medical care. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 106(10), 399-407. Web.

Martire, L. M., & Schulz, R. (2007). Involving family in psychosocial interventions for chronic illness. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(2), 90–94. Web.

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