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The family as a rehabilitation resource : the assessment and application of family strengths and weaknesses in the rehabilitation of male arthritic patients: Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society (B.C. Division), Medical Centre, 1955-58 Hagerman, Goldie Jeune

Abstract

Physical disability resulting from arthritis is a widespread problem: when the sufferer is the breadwinner of a family, it is particularly serious, creating the need for special services not only for the disabled person, but also for his family. But the treatment potential of the patient also depends on how far his family is in turn a source of strength or weakness to him. This is a casework "dimension" that is far from fully explored. This thesis considers the family as a treatment resource in the rehabilitation of a group of male arthritic breadwinners who have been in-patients at the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society (B.C. Division) Medical centre in Vancouver, B. C, for at least three months. While focusing on the patient in his family group, the study undertakes an intensive examination of the material found in case records and related correspondence from the Medical Centre's Social Service Department, a clinical social work setting. The outcome of the exploration was to emphasize two approaches: (a) the recognition of factors in family behaviour toward the patient which connote family strength, and (b) their application in casework to help meet the patient's needs. Four comparative cases (two each of "strong" and "weak" examples) were selected to identify the variables affecting employment, treatment, and family interaction. The results of this analysis were then applied to the process of diagnosis and treatment to the total cases (seven) for which clinical and social information was available. The specific findings are (1) that the patient's family could influence positively the patient's rehabilitation potential; (2) that family strength could be recognized in a clinical setting treating the patient; (3) that certain additional kinds of diagnostic information are required prior to the patient's admission to the Medical Centre for treatment. A rating scale of family strength can be envisaged as an experimental counterpart of this complex adjustment process. Some practical implications for future service are discussed.

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