A culturally adapted family intervention for African American families coping with parental cancer: outcomes of a pilot study

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The primary objective of this 2-year pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a culturally adapted family intervention in improving family communication among African American parents coping with cancer and their school-age children. A secondary objective was to determine its impact on other symptoms of psychosocial distress (depression and anxiety). The third objective was to assess for acceptability and feasibility.


Using a two-arm pre-intervention and post-intervention prospective design, 12 African American families received five bi-monthly sessions of either a culturally adapted family intervention (n = 7 families) or psycho-education treatment (n = 5 families). Parents and their children completed pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaires assessing perceptions of family communication, quality of their relationship, and symptoms of depression. School-age children additionally completed a questionnaire assessing their levels of anxiety. Consumer satisfaction was also evaluated at post-intervention.


Parents and school-age children who completed the culturally adapted family intervention reported significantly better communication with each other and were more satisfied compared with the psycho-education control group. No changes were noted in symptoms of anxiety or depression. The culturally adapted family intervention was acceptable based on our findings, families' feedback, and rates of retention. Feasibility is uncertain because our oncology clinic approach to recruitment was slower than expected.


Providing culturally adapted family intervention programs to African American families who are coping with parental cancer may result in improved family communication. This pilot study serves as the first step in the development of culturally adapted family intervention programs to help African American families cope with parental cancer. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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