It is important for MedFTs to be aware that childhood cancer is less common than cancers in adulthood (Brigham & Children's Hospital, 2005); therefore, treatment for childhood cancer is limited to specialized medical centers with doctors who focus on pediatric oncology (Woznick & Goodheart, 2002).
When working with these families, MedFTs will need to help families navigate these difficult decisions while being simultaneously charged with assisting children and parents to adapt to their cultural role as patient, member of the treatment team, and tenant (for those who maintain the hospital as their primary residence).
A final setting-based assumption or bias for MedFTs to overcome is related to collaboration with the medical staff.
Functioning as an intermediary, MedFTs can highlight key treatment issues with which the family is struggling, allowing the medical team to tailor its approach in a more sensitive manner.
These individuals included doctors, nurses, support staff, chaplains, child life specialists, and MedFTs as members of a collaborative team treating children with cancer and their families.
Along with these themes, we created a qualitative description of medical family therapy on the basis of responses to the question about having MedFTs on the treatment team.
To create a sample, the master's and doctoral level MedFTs working on the unit were asked to use a purposive sampling procedure.
This unit has an established relationship with the university MFT clinic where the MedFTs practice, and many psychiatric residents are routinely involved in a semester long practicum experience with the family therapy teams there.
Due to the size and nature of operations on the unit, several MedFTs and referring providers were interviewed multiple times for multiple cases.
Overall, 15 identified patients (IPs), 21 family/support members (FSMs), nine referring providers (RPs), and six MedFTs were interviewed.
The RPs and MedFTs clarified that up until the MedFT session, the only part of that system that had been treated was most often just the identified patient.