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Are We Short-Changing our Patients and Families?

Posted By Dan Marlowe, Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It seems that no matter where we turn, the rising costs of healthcare continue to be an issue for not only governmental agencies and the healthcare profession in general, but is often overlooked (or given a cursory glance at best) in regards to the toll this major stressor takes on individual patients and their families. All of us can recall learning at some point the ‘golden trifecta’ of issues that bring people (couples and families especially) into therapy; money, sex, and parenting. More than once I have worked with a patient/couple/family whose main source of distress stemmed not only from the disease and the associated physical and subsequent role changes, but also the terrifying prospect of losing any hope of a financially secure future.

If MedFT’s emphasis as a field (if it can be called/viewed as that) is about more complete care through systemic conceptualization and collaboration, have we been neglecting discussion about and collaboration with professionals whose expertise is in the area finance. If so, how might we better incorporate these conversations as a fundamental part of our clinical, academic, and research work?

This link is to a NY Times story detailing the financial related distress many families face when coping with illness, as well as the ramifications after the treatments and physician visits have ended.

The marriage and family therapy training program at the University of Georgia has a unique clinic where MFTs work alongside accounting and business graduate students to help couples/families negotiate the financial stresses that often exacerbate and accompany the issues that initially bring them into their clinic- please, any UGA folks reading this feel free to correct me. Perhaps as we, as collaborative professionals (regardless of profession), seek to develop training models around integration and collaboration, we should turn a more watchful eye to explicitly including financial concerns in the laundry list issues our patients and their families need assistance in discussing.


Daniel Marlowe

Dan Marlowe is the co-editor of the Growing MedFT Blog, and the Director of Applied Psychosocial Medicine for the Duke/Southern Regional AHEC Family Medicine Residency Program in Fayetteville, NC. He obtained his MS in Marriage and Family Therapy and PhD in Medical Family Therapy from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.

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Deepu V. George says...
Posted Monday, May 28, 2012
Dan, you are correct. The ASPIRE clinic at UGA has a comprehensive approach to clients. We have financial, nutritional, legal, and design folks working together. We pair up with other services as needed.

- Deepu George
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