Current literature suggests that family interventions should be proposed to patients with somatic illness and their family to promote better communication and adaptation of patient and its relatives. Concerning patients with cancer, studies show a better adaptation when patient and its family can communicate more easily about disease and their emotional reactions. This study aims at describing the effect of family intervention on the communication about cancer and emotion in cancer patient families.
We have done a systematic review of the literature concerning family interventions in somatic disease and cancer, to describe the recommendations that are given in recent research.
Then we have analysed, with qualitative method (IPA), first and fourth filmed family therapy sessions (6 couples and 5 families). We intend to describe the talking evolution in the family to underline the changing in communication during the first four sessions of therapy.
Analysis of family sessions indicate: (1) Patient and spouse use more the “We” after four sessions (19% to 45%), and less the “you” and the “he/she” (57% versus 30%) (2) Number of therapist interventions is decreasing of 32% from the first to the fourth session and there are much more silences (10% more) (3) Cancer theme is decreasing from 71% of the talk themes to 54% (4) Expression of fears and sadness are increasing from 6% to 18% (5) At first session parents want to speak about cancer in 80% of the families, and children want to speak about family life in 60% and about cancer in 30% of the families (6) At the fourth session, cancer theme is replaced by family issues.
Conclusion: This study suggest than family interventions have an effect on the communication en emotional expression. Clinical implications are discussed and long term studies should be developed.