What works for therapists conducting family meetings: Treatment integrity in family-focused grief Therapy during palliative care and bereavement

Eunice K.H. Chan, Imogen O'Neill, Maria McKenzie, Anthony Love, David W. Kissane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the treatment integrity of Family-Focused Grief Therapy (FFGT), a preventive intervention designed for families at high risk of poor functioning during palliative care and bereavement. From the 81 families participating in a randomized controlled trial (53 assigned to therapy), 28 were randomly selected for this study of treatment fidelity using the FFGT integrity measure. A total of 109 family sessions were appraised. This represented a review of 62% of treated families, 38% of total therapy sessions, and 87% of the 15 participating therapists. Weighted mean percentage occurrences of therapist behaviors permitted trends in therapy application to be observed. Inter-rater reliability using the FFGT integrity measure was satisfactory, with 88% overall agreement. Eighty-six percent of therapists adhered faithfully to core elements of the model. Therapist competence was evidenced by a strong therapeutic alliance (94%), affirmation of family strengths in over 90%, and focus on agreed themes in 76% of sessions. Therapists averaged 10 grief-related questions per session, 7 on communication-related issues during assessment, 7 on conflict late in therapy, and 4 on cohesiveness across the course of therapy. Consistent application of FFGT, with attention to its four key themes of family communication, cohesiveness, conflict resolution, and shared grief has been demonstrated. The model is generalizable when applied by family therapists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-512
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • adherence
  • bereavement
  • competence
  • Family care
  • grief
  • palliative care
  • treatment integrity

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