Conducting a family meeting

Nessa Coyle and David W Kissane

in Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238361
Published online November 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191730290 | DOI:
Conducting a family meeting

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Family meetings in oncology occur most commonly in four settings. The first is soon after diagnosis, when the cancer patients and their families are being oriented to the disease, potential treatment options, and the system of care with available supports. The second is in the setting of an inpatient admission, when goals of care need to be re-defined and treatment options reviewed. The third is during palliative care, where the support of the family in planning ongoing care is essential to optimise such care. And the fourth is when there is conflict about the direction of cancer care, sometimes in the setting of a patient without capacity, when the medical staff and the patient's healthcare agent disagree with goals of care and treatment. Family meetings are commonly held in paediatric oncology or genetic counselling settings. This chapter describes a model of conducting the basic, planned family meeting in the setting of a patient with advanced disease. It discusses communication skills used in facilitating family meetings and the key process tasks in conducting such meetings.

Keywords: family meetings; cancer care; palliative care; communication skills; process tasks; genetic counselling; oncology; cancer patients; families; inpatient admission

Chapter.  5298 words. 

Subjects: Palliative Medicine

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