Psychosocial interventions to improve social functioning of youth with chronic physical conditions


Forgeron, P., King, S., Reszel, J., & Fournier, K. (2017). Psychosocial interventions to improve social functioning of children and adolescents with chronic physical conditions: A systematic review. Children’s Health Care, DOI:10.1080/02739615.2017.1328600.


This systematic review included 13 studies that investigated the impact of social functioning interventions on youths (aged 8-18) with chronic medical conditions. Interventions varied by study, and included psychoeducation about the medical condition, changing negative cognitions, and developing communication skills. The authors noted a majority of the interventions targeted communication and did not address a variety of factors related to social functioning. Overall, psychosocial interventions decreased self-reported loneliness and difficulties with peers, while increasing appropriate social behavior and feeling accepted by peers, though the effect size was small. The most robust findings were in interventions that focused on a broad range of social functions that occurred over multiple sessions. Future research on the longitudinal impact of psychosocial interventions aimed at complex and unique social difficulties is needed to better understand and support youths with chronic medical conditions.

I CHOSE THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE chronic medical conditions can negatively impact many aspects of a youth’s psychosocial functioning, leading to higher incidence of mental health concerns and social difficulties than youths without medical conditions. Though many youths with chronic medical conditions experience psychosocial concerns, the review noted there is limited research regarding the efficacy of such interventions. Supporting youths through targeted and personalized psychosocial interventions may increase quality of life through decreased social and mental health difficulties.

THIS MONTH’S REHABILITATION SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT was chosen by Cassie Ross, M.S., Psychology Trainee at the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, San Francisco Bay Area; Member of Division 22 Science Committee.