Informations and abstract
Keywords: Chronic illness, family, adjustment, research models, protective factors
Although there is an extensive literature concerning families with children suffering from chronic illnesses, the specific aim of the present review is to investigate those areas of studies and research which focus on family functioning and adjustment. For this purpose, we have selected three different areas: the first one, which was more frequently addressed in the past but is still of some use, concerns studies focused on chronic disease as a risk factor for psychosocial and/or psychiatric disorders, both in the patient and in his relatives; the second refers to the various phases of adaptation the family goes through as a consequence of the diagnosis and it is aimed at highlighting the risks brought about by a greater vulnerability within some of those phases, while analyzing the most effective adaptation strategies (specific attention is devoted to the strategy of normalization). The third area, the most recently developed of those taken into account, deals with family functioning and it is specifically aimed at the analysis of routines and familiar rituals as recurring, stable and predictable practices providing safeguards against the psychic disorder. Also, the studies presented here demonstrate how the relationship between families and medical staff could constitute a positive factor in the improvement of the family well-being.