Article Outlines How Medical Providers Can Facilitate Positive Psychosocial Outcomes for Craniofacial Patients and Their Families

Alexis GiannattasioACPA News, Journal

  • Psychosocial issues can affect patients and their families at any time during treatment
  • Supporting patients and their families with information and resources promotes positive outcomes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. / March 17, 2020 – Medical providers play an important role in addressing psychosocial issues that may arise during treatment of patients affected by craniofacial conditions, and their families, according to a recent article published in the February 2020 issue of The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal (CPCJ).

“All medical providers share a responsibility and opportunity to promote positive psychosocial outcomes and support patients and their families as they adapt and overcome these challenges,” said Nicola Marie Stock, DPhil, lead author. “The goal of this article is to further educate medical providers about psychosocial issues that can affect patients with craniofacial anomalies (CFAs) and to offer practical guidance on how they can monitor and address these issues.”

Treatment of CFAs is complex and multifaceted, requiring long-term intervention from a wide range of medical providers. In addition to the ongoing burden of medical care, young patients and their families may experience myriad psychological and social challenges. As affected children enter school, concerns may center on teasing and bullying, behavioral conduct, school absences due to medical care, and academic difficulties, as well as speech and hearing issues. Parents, meanwhile, may experience feelings of shock, guilt, grief, and concerns about their child’s future.

By drawing upon available literature and clinical expertise, the article’s authors outline key psychosocial issues across developmental phases and explain how medical providers can address these challenges through a patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach. The article outlines three primary suggestions for medical providers: 1) comprehensive, compassionate communication regarding treatment plans; 2) empowering patients and families by supporting care coordination and providing referrals to other appropriate health professionals and organizations; and 3) identifying those patients and families who may benefit from additional support.

“Craniofacial care spans infancy to adulthood. As the psychosocial needs of patients and their families change over time, medical providers can help prepare and guide them through these transitions in treatment and promote more overall positive outcomes,’ said Dr. Stock.

“It is important to understand that each medical provider on the team has a role in promoting positive psychosocial outcomes. The authors have done a brilliant job of outlining this and providing strong justification for team involvement in addressing the myriad concerns that a child and his/her family may have. Furthermore, this article provides useful strategies for a cleft craniofacial team to use to collaboratively support families. Recommendations are succinctly summarized in a table within the article that can be shared with providers on a team. Additionally, this may be a valuable article and resource to share with the child’s school providers (e.g., school speech-language pathologist or social worker) to promote a unified team approach between cleft-craniofacial teams and the child’s school,” said Jamie L. Perry, PhD, CCC-SLP, editor of The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.

To learn more about the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and cleft and craniofacial conditions, please visit acpa-cpf.org.

About the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association
The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) association of interested individuals and health care professionals who treat and/or perform research on oral cleft and craniofacial conditions. Since 1943, ACPA has worked to optimize outcomes for individuals with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions through education, support, research, advocacy and interdisciplinary team care. ACPA also provides information to affected individuals and families and seeks to educate the public about facial differences through its ACPA Family Services program. For more information, please visit acpa-cpf.org.