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Family group decision-making interventions in adult healthcare and welfare: a systematic literature review of its key elements and effectiveness
  1. Chantal F Hillebregt1,
  2. Eline W M Scholten1,
  3. Marcel W M Post1,2,
  4. Johanna M A Visser-Meily1,3,
  5. Marjolijn Ketelaar1
  1. 1Center of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine Utrecht, Brain Center University Medical Center Utrecht, and De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy Science & Sports, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marjolijn Ketelaar; M.Ketelaar{at}


Background Family group decision-making (FGDM) is a structured decision-making process, aiming to shift the balance of power from professional towards the person in need and their family. It differentiates from other family-centred meetings by the presence of three key elements: (1) plan with actions/goals, (2) family driven, (3) three phases of meetings gradually increasing empowerment. FGDM studies are increasing in different settings in adult healthcare/welfare, although effectiveness is unknown at this date.

Objectives (1) to systematically review the presence of the three FGDM key elements in family-centred interventions in adult care and welfare, (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of FGDM interventions.

Design Systematic review.

Data sources and eligibility criteria A total of 14 relevant electronic databases and 1 academic search machine were searched until February 2018. First, family-centred studies were selected with controlled trial designs in adult healthcare/welfare. Second, interventions were categorised as FGDM if all three key elements were present.

Data extraction and synthesis Studies were examined concerning their (1) characteristics (2) quality/level of evidence (3) presence of FGDM key elements and (4) results.

Results Six articles from three studies on family-centred interventions were selected from a total of 1680 articles. All were of low quality. One study (two articles) met all criteria for an FGDM intervention, describing the efficacy of family group conferences among social welfare recipients on mental health outcomes. Although the intervention group showed significantly better outcomes after 16–23 weeks; no differences were seen at the 1-year follow-up.

Conclusions Controlled studies of both family-centred interventions and FGDM are still low in quantity and quality. No conclusions on FGDM effectiveness can be drawn. Further high-quality intervention studies are required to evaluate the impact of FGDM on adults in need, including their families; as well as evaluation research detecting possible barriers and facilitators influencing FGDM implementation.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42017077585.

  • family-centred medicine
  • patient-centred medicine
  • decision-making
  • empowerment

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  • Contributors CFH developed the first version of the manuscript, in collaboration with EWMS, JMAV-M, MWMP and MK. JMAV-M, MWMP and MK supervised the writing process and provided feedback on several drafts of the manuscript. EWMS and MK executed the double screening. JMAV-M, MWMP and MK provided methodological advice. CFH wrote the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study is financially supported by ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, Fonds Nuts Ohra and Revalidatiefonds, grant number: 630000003.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, (MK), upon reasonable request.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.