Sharing the Care: The Role of Family in Chronic Illness

Ann-Marie Rosland, MD, MS

Patients with chronic illness can benefit when their families support them in managing their care. This report provides information and resources for enhancing family involvement.

August 2009

Family members can play a valuable role in helping to manage the care of individuals with one or more chronic illnesses. This report draws together a broad range of research findings, case studies, and resources to assist patients, their families, and health care providers to maximize the benefits of family involvement in chronic care support.

As more Americans are diagnosed with chronic illness, interest in family involvement in care support is growing. A variety of family intervention programs is available, and three of these are described in the report:

  • A couples-oriented education and support program focused on setting goals for osteoarthritis self-help and care
  • A program stressing communication techniques that support autonomy for patients with heart failure
  • A technology-enabled program that helps distant family members in the monitoring of heart failure patients' symptoms and test results

These and other programs offer strategies for handling challenges, improving communications, and maximizing the benefits of family involvement in chronic illness care.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.