Nurses' view of the family in psychiatric care

Lena-Mari Sjöblom, Anita Pejlert, Kenneth Asplund
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2005, 14 (5): 562-9

AIMS: The aim of this study is to examine nurses' view of the family in psychiatric care.

BACKGROUND: The families of people who are mentally ill carry a heavy burden. Research has shown that they experience sorrow, shame and guilt. They are often involved in informal caring and there is evidence of families playing an important role in the recovery of the patient. In spite of this, a great deal could still be made to create more family-oriented care. This development depends to a large extent on nurses' view of involving families in the care and the perceived value of family-oriented work.

METHOD: Four focus groups, with four to six carers in each group, were conducted. The recorded focus groups lasted 75-90 minutes and the data were transcribed and interpreted using content analysis.

RESULTS: The results present four themes: compassion for and understanding of close relatives, the carer as the recipient of negative feelings, difficulties and dilemmas in the meeting with close relatives and preconceptions of mental illnesses in the family and in society. The results were interpreted as meaning that the carers found themselves in something that can be described as a double-bind situation.

CONCLUSION: From analysis and interpretation, the conclusion is drawn that improved communication between nurses, patients and families could be a way to resolve the double-bind situation.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: To promote family health and also improve things for the patient, it can be argued, from the results of this study, that nurses should carefully consider whether and how to involve family members in care.

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