Families and Chronic Illness

Module Sections:

The Family Systems-Illness Model

When an individual in a family is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it is appropriate to expect the stress level within the family to increase. As discussed earlier, the ABCX Model is classified as a stress theory. The Double ABCX Model was specifically looked at in order to help you, the user, better understand the process of stress within a family unit. When a family is faced with a chronic illness of a family member, the family experiences a stressor that adds to their overall stress level. For example, chronic illnesses are usually just that—chronic—and therefore are often unable to be cured. As opposed to other illnesses, chronic illnesses have to be lived with and endured. The Family Systems-Illness Model developed by John Rolland (1994) is designed to specifically aid clinicians in helping families develop ways of coping with a chronic illness. Rolland’s model will now be discussed and later integrated with the Double ABCX Model. The integration will better illustrate how a chronic illness affects:

  • The Pile-Up Factor (aA)
  • The Family Adaptive Resources Factor (bB)
  • The perceptions Factor (cC)

The Family Systems-Illness Model focuses on the interface of the illness and the family system (see figure 1 below) (Rolland, 1994, 2005).

Figure 1. Interface of Chronic Illness and the FamilyFigure 1. Interface of Chronic Illness and the Family