The Evaluation of Family Functioning by the Family Assessment Device: A Systematic Review of Studies in Adult Clinical Populations
A large body of research, documenting the impact of a family's functioning on health outcomes, highlights the importance of introducing the evaluation of patients' family dynamics into clinical judgment. The Family Assessment Device (FAD) is a self-report questionnaire designed to assess specific dimensions of family functioning. This qualitative systematic review, which follows PRISMA guidelines, aimed to identify the FAD's clinimetric properties and to report the incremental utility of its inclusion in clinical settings. A thorough literature search was performed, using both computerized and manual searches, yielding a total of 148 studies that were included in this review. The FAD has been extensively used in a variety of research contexts. In the majority of studies it was able to discriminate between clinical populations and controls and among groups of patients with different illnesses. The FAD also showed good test–retest and concurrent reliability, and modest sensitivity to change after treatment. FAD-dysfunctional family functioning was related to several patient clinical outcomes, including lower recovery rates and adherence to treatment, longer recovery time, poorer quality of life, and increased risk of relapse and drop-out. The present review demonstrates that the FAD is a suitable instrument for the evaluation of family functioning both in clinical and research settings.