Psychology Faculty Publications

Advancing Medical Family Therapy Through Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed-Methods Research

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



To survive in today’s healthcare climate, stakeholders across all behavioral health disciplines must work to produce empirical evidence that earns their fields’ regard by educators, providers, and policy makers. As the field of medical family therapy (MedFT) answers this call, it will be important for researchers to clearly define, characterize, and assess MedFT practice across clinical, operational, and financial arenas of care. In this chapter, the authors propose a common lexicon from which to do this, highlighting the following core tenets of MedFT: systems theory, biopsychosocial–spiritual sensitivity in practice, agency, communion, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the three-world model of healthcare. We conclude by offering concrete ways to advance the MedFT research agenda using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method approaches. Over the past two decades, medical family therapy (MedFT) has emerged as a distinctive field within the larger behavioral health system. Since its foundation, it has adapted and evolved in response to the dynamic and ever-changing landscapes of health care, including the advent of healthcare maintenance organizations, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and development of patient-centered medical homes. To survive in this shifting climate, empirical evidence from core metrics is needed to track progress on healthcare quality, cost, patient and public engagement, and health outcomes (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2013). In turn, these metrics may be used to earn favor by educators, clinicians, third-party payers, and policy makers for an integrated model of care. As we work to answer this call, scholars must cohesively define, characterize, and assess MedFT and identify research methods (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods) that bear promise to advance the approach and framework.


Medical family therapy, research, qualitative, quantitative, mixed-method


In Jennifer Hodgson, Angela Lamson, Tai Mendenhall, D. Russell Crane (Eds.), Medical Family Therapy: Advanced Applications. New York: Springer. Chapter 13, pp. 241-258.