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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Room Exists to Improve Engagement with Families of Adults With Multiple Chronic Conditions

People with multiple chronic conditions often rely on support from family members when managing treatment and making health care decisions. Yet few documented medical interventions exist that focus on engaging both patients and their families.

This is according to a new study published in Medical Care, which includes research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine.

A chronic condition is one that lasts more than a year and limits daily activities or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment. An estimated 42 percent of Americans are living with more than one chronic condition, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As the complexity of these multiple chronic conditions (MCC) increases, so does the risk of poor health outcomes. This is why it is imperative that health care providers foster the best possible level of engagement with MCC patients.

With that in mind, the UNC research team completed a review of published literature to identify any interventions used to facilitate engagement with MCC patients and families. The team included Dr. Carol Golin, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School; Dr. Crystal Cené, associate professor at the School of Medicine; Alexandra Munson, project manager at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Ms. Claire Sadeghzadeh, project manager at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

The review found that less than one third – 26 percent – of interventions partnered with patients to create dialogue instead of simply telling patients what to do. Of this 26 percent, only one intervention was focused on family involvement. Of all the interventions analyzed in the review, only three mentioned involving family members or caregivers at all.

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