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Semin Oncol. 2011 Jun;38(3):407-12. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2011.03.011.

The family conference in oncology: benefits for the patient, family, and physician.

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Department of Solid Tumor Oncology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The family conference (FC) is a forum for communication with both the patient and family to discuss essential information about medical, educational, and psychosocial needs. It ensures appropriate decision-making, which is integral to comprehensive cancer care. Inclusion of the family creates opportunities and challenges. The main opportunities are for the family to share support for the patient and collaborate with the medical team. This can ease adaptation throughout the illness course with better adherence to recommended treatment plans and greater satisfaction with medical care. The challenge is to manage communication to evolve understanding when treatment outcomes are not curative, and to meet the medical information and psychosocial needs of the patient and family. The FC aim is to give the family confidence by: (1) providing a calm discussion and understanding the illness and treatment; (2) offering a sense of safety that patient's goals will be balanced by the impact on the family caregivers; (3) affording the opportunity to connect and sustain each other; (4) sharing hope and mutual empathy; and (5) maintaining self-efficacy to manage their needs. Using the FC to discuss the plan of care and at the same time assisting the family to process the impact of the illness optimizes benefit for the patient, family, and physician.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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