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Multiple Family Groups for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury and Family Caregivers

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
4/1/2014 – 3/31/2016


This study aims to address this gap by evaluating a structured evidence-based group treatment for SCI called Multi-family Group (MFG) intervention. MFG is a practical problem solving approach conducted in a group setting with patients and their caregivers that has been modeled on research in schizophrenia. The intervention provides information about the injury, resources and suggestions for managing problems and issues concerning physical, emotional and behavioral well-being. The MFG intervention also provides opportunities for social networking and support expansion through implementing management guidelines in a structured format found effective in other chronic diseases. The approach is based on the belief that families are part of the process of adjusting to an injury, can promote long-term health maintenance, and help improve the quality of life.

The objective of this study is to test, in a randomized controlled design, an MFG intervention for the treatment of individuals with SCI and their primary caregivers. Participants will be randomized to the MFG intervention or an active SCI education control (SCIEC) condition that simply provides structured education but minimizes the opportunity for interaction among group members. The SCIEC condition will be based on content from the 4th Edition of the book titled: Yes, you can: A guide to self-care for persons with spinal cord injury. Both conditions will be led by experienced clinicians skilled at helping families and patients in the process of rehabilitation from SCI. Our central hypotheses are that (1) MFG-SCI will be superior to SCIEC for SCI patient activation, health status, and emotion regulation, caregiver burden and health status, and relationship functioning, and (2) MFG will be more effective for individuals with SCI and their caregivers when the person with SCI is within 18 months of discharge from inpatient rehabilitation compared to when the patient is between 18 and 36 months post discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, in support of increased efficacy for participants who are more recently discharged from inpatient rehabilitation.

Primary Investigator

Dennis Dyck
Dennis Dyck, PhD
WSU Spokane


  • Douglas Weeks, PhD
  • Diane Norell