The complexities embedded in family-centered care

Am J Occup Ther. 1998 Apr;52(4):259-67. doi: 10.5014/ajot.52.4.259.


The recent movement toward family-centered care, which has been propelled by the implementation of the Education for All Handicapped Children Amendments of 1986, poses considerable challenges to professionals trained in client-centered models of service delivery. These challenges are compounded by the fact that our understanding of family-centered care lags considerably behind our attempts to implement responsive and efficacious services. When practitioners include family members more integrally as collaborators in pediatric treatment, their perceptions about families and the nature of the therapeutic experience is affected. In this article, we present a number of critical dilemmas that are based on data drawn from ethnographic research, descriptive studies, and training seminars we conducted with pediatric practitioners and parents of children with special health care needs. These dilemmas highlight the complexities involved in building effective partnerships among all the key players, the influence of multiple cultural worlds on everyday practices, and the need to provide supports to practitioners for the emotional and social dimensions of practice. Implications for practice and future research are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Disabled Children*
  • Family Health*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Occupational Therapy / trends
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Social Support
  • Workload