Implementation of Un Abrazo Para La FamiliaTM in Southern Arizona With Extension to Survivors and Assessment of Effects on Distress

Catherine A. Marshall, Mario Jesus Trejo, Juanita I. Trejo, Julie S. Armin, Terry A. Badger, Karen L. Weihs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Un Abrazo Para La FamiliaTM [Embracing the Family] (Abrazo) is a 3- hr psychoeducational intervention designed for low-income informal caregivers who are cosurvivors of cancer. A rehabilitation-informed preventive intervention, Abrazo reflects the importance of family, culture, and socioeconomic background. A pilot study was conducted to inform a larger geographic implementation of Abrazo. The aims were to determine if previous outcomes of increased cancer knowledge and selfefficacy could be replicated and to investigate intervention effects on distress. Method: A pretest-posttest design was used to assess changes in cancer knowledge, self-efficacy, and distress for Abrazo participants. Distress was measured with the American Medical Association’s Caregiver Assessment (Epstein-Lubow et al., 2010) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer (Donovan et al., 2014; Forsythe et al., 2013; Fulcher & Gosselin-Acomb, 2007). The Patient Health Questionnaire–4 (PHQ-4) (Kroenke et al., 2009) measured symptoms of anxiety and depression. Results: Both survivors (n = 37) and cosurvivors (n = 103) increased in cancer knowledge and self-efficacy after completing Abrazo. Mean levels of distress and symptoms decreased for cosurvivors, but not for survivors. At study entry, 19% of cosurvivors and 12% of survivors scored ≥6/12 on the PHQ-4, the standard cutoff for clinically significant symptoms. Only 13% of cosurvivors, but 30% of survivors exceeded this threshold at three-month follow-up. Elevated symptoms persisted in 12% of survivors from baseline to follow-up; in 18% of survivors, symptoms rose between baseline and follow-up. Discussion: Increased cancer knowledge and self-efficacy in participants replicates evidence of Abrazo’s effectiveness. The result of decreased distress in cosurvivors extends our understanding of Abrazo’s effectiveness with this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-281
Number of pages13
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cancer knowledge
  • Community health
  • Family caregivers
  • Self-efficacy
  • Vulnerable and underserved populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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