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Content-Area Framework for Conducting Family Meetings for Acutely Ill Psychiatric Patients

PON, NATALIE C., MD; GORDON, MOLLIE R., MD; COVERDALE, JOHN, MD, MEd; NGUYEN, PHUONG T., PhD

Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: September 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 5 - p 416–421
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000176
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Family meetings are a critically important component of managing acutely psychiatrically ill patients, and learning how to conduct such a meeting is critically important in the training of psychiatrists. Because we found no published comprehensive tools that dealt with the biopsychosocial content areas to be covered in family meetings in acute psychiatric settings, we developed and present such a comprehensive tool that is based in part on a review of existing tools utilized by other disciplines. This article describes the specific steps involved in premeeting planning, the formal topic areas that might be canvassed during the meeting, and postmeeting documentation and debriefing. The general content areas for discussion during the meeting include the setting of goals and expectations, relevant history-gathering, assessment of the family’s understanding of the issues at stake, formal psychoeducation, and review of specific treatment strategies and clinical progress. The meeting may also include a discussion of resources available to the patient and family members and a review of issues related to the safety of the patient and others, management of early warning signs, and sensitive topics such as trauma, abuse, or violence that may play a role in the presentation or treatment of the patient to best translate established goals into a longer term plan of care. Implementation of this comprehensive and necessarily structured model should enhance the patient’s and family’s understanding of the issues at stake and should improve satisfaction, promote trust and an effective working alliance, and enhance the quality of the biopsychosocial care plan.

PON: Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; Present address: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Child Development, Stanford University, Stanford CA

GORDON and NGUYEN: Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

COVERDALE: Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Center for Ethics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Natalie C. Pon, MD, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Building, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94305-5719 (e-mail: npon@stanford.edu).

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