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Serious illness and family dynamics. 1. Changes in consulting patterns of the unafflicted family members

, : Serious illness and family dynamics. 1. Changes in consulting patterns of the unafflicted family members. Family Practice 2(2): 61-69

This article examines the effect of an acute serious illness in one member of a family on the health behaviour of other members. The number of consultations made by 92 family members before and after an acute serious illness was measured and compared with a control group of 102 people who had experienced no serious illness in their family. The coping resources of the family--defined in terms of flexibility of parental relationships, conflict avoidance and family strain - were assessed and related to the changes in consultation pattern. It was shown that an acute serious illness affecting one member of a family which lacks adequate coping resources can lead to an increase in reporting of serious complaints in other family members. In families which have adequate coping resources, however, the health of the remaining family members can apparently improve. This refutes the view that a serious life event necessarily has only a harmful influence on health.


PMID: 4007315

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