Exploring the emotional support needs and coping strategies of family carers

M Chambers, A A Ryan, S L Connor
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 2001, 8 (2): 99-106
This paper explores the emotional support needs and coping strategies of family carers derived from two focus group interviews, each group comprising seven family carers. The interviews were carried out in Northern Ireland as part of phase one of the ACTION (Assisting Carers using Telematics Interventions to meet Older persons Needs) project. The purpose of the interviews was to investigate family carers' needs and experiences, but this paper focuses specifically on the emotional support needs and coping strategies identified by group members. The issues discussed included information and social support needs, the emotional impact of caring, and coping with and adaptation to the caring role. The findings reveal that for the majority of family carers their experience was one of constant searching for support and information. The anxiety and frustration associated with inconsistent and irregular support and lack of information was a major source of concern for the carers in the study. However, the carers employed a number of positive and negative coping strategies to deal with the stress associated with their caregiving role. The study concluded with the recommendation for nurses and other health care professionals to become more proactive in assessing and meeting carers' emotional support needs.

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