Objective To review research on observed family communication in families with children with chronic illnesses compared with families with healthy, typically developing children, and to integrate findings utilizing a unifying family communication framework. Method Topical review of studies that have directly observed family communication in pediatric populations and included a typically developing comparison group. Results Initial findings from 14 studies with diverse approaches to quantifying observed family communication suggest that families with children with chronic illnesses may demonstrate lower levels of warm and structured communication and higher levels of hostile/intrusive and withdrawn communication compared with families with healthy, typically developing children. Conclusion An integrative framework of family communication may be used in future studies that examine the occurrence, correlates, and mechanisms of family communication in pediatric populations.

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