Individuals with chronic health conditions are at greater risk of emotional and behavioural problems, including mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, risk taking behaviours, body image and eating disorders, as well as social difficulties (Barlow & Ellard, 2006; Berge & Patterson, 2004; Weiser, 2007). These psychological issues can impact on an individual's ability to cope with their physical condition. Family members of an individual with a chronic health condition are also at risk of psychological distress. To date, there has been a notable absence of psychological support services, both for individuals and their families affected by chronic illness. A new MidCentral Health initiative focussed on the provision of psychological services for adults, children and their families with chronic illness has recently been established at Massey University's Palmerston North Psychology Clinic. These Services are among the first of their kind in New Zealand, and have implications for the management of individuals with chronic health conditions in the primary health sector. This article will outline the aims and establishment of the Services, along with a discussion of evidence-based therapeutic interventions, illustrated by case studies.
New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 2009, 38 (1), pp. 39 - 47
New Zealand Psychological Society Inc.