Conducting a family meeting

Nessa Coyle, David W. Kissane

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1 Citation (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care
EditorsDavid Kissane, Barry Bultz, Phyllis Butow, Ilora Finlay
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780191730290
ISBN (Print)9780199238361
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer care
  • Cancer patients
  • Communication skills
  • Families
  • Family meetings
  • Genetic counselling
  • Inpatient admission
  • Oncology
  • Palliative care
  • Process tasks

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