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J Pediatr Psychol. 2001 Oct-Nov;26(7):435-53.

Review of group interventions for pediatric chronic conditions.

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Division of Child and Family Psychiatry, Brown University School of Medicine/Rhode Island Hospital, Providence 02903, USA.



To identify treatment studies on group interventions for pediatric conditions and to review their efficacy using standardized criteria.


Through a systematic literature review, we identified 125 studies describing group treatments for pediatric populations. Group interventions were classified into one of four types of groups distinguished by their primary goals and intended outcomes: emotional support, psychoeducation, adaptation/skill development, or symptom reduction. A fifth category, summer camps, contained elements of the other categories, but due to their unique setting, we considered them separately. Treatments were evaluated and designated as "promising," "probably efficacious," or "well-established," based on the Chambless/Society for Pediatric Psychology criteria.


Group interventions for children and adolescents have been developed to increase knowledge of illness, to increase psychological adaptation, and to decrease physical symptoms and side effects. This literature falls on a broad continuum, ranging from descriptive articles with no empirical assessment of outcome to treatment outcome studies employing randomized control conditions and standardized outcome measures.


Although well-established group interventions do exist, much work is required to establish the efficacy of most group treatments for children and adolescents with chronic illness. Recommendations for improving the status of research are offered.

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