The coping experiences of carers who live with someone who has schizophrenia

Xuan-Yi Huang, Fan-Ko Sun, Wen-Jiuan Yen, Chou-Mei Fu
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2008, 17 (6): 817-26

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to understand the coping experiences of carers living with a schizophrenic family member. Our research may be a valuable reference for mental health professionals seeking to improve the quality of care for people with schizophrenia and their carers.

DESIGN: We employed a qualitative descriptive phenomenological research methodology to understand the coping experiences of carers living with a schizophrenic family member.

METHODS: Purposive sampling and in-depth, face-to-face interviews were used to collect data. When data saturation was reached, the sample size comprised 10 carers (five men and five women). The interview focused on the carer's coping experience. During the process of data collection and data analyis we established epoches (bracketing) and returned to the reality of the carers' experience to keep the data objective. Narratives were analysed according to Colaizzi's seven steps method.

RESULTS: The two most commonly used coping mechanisms that emerged from this study were psychological coping strategies (cognitive, behavioural and emotional) and social coping strategies (religious, social and professional support). Furthermore, three factors were found in the study, including low social status, traditional help-seeking behaviours and feelings of shame.

CONCLUSION: Findings from this study demonstrate the importance of understanding the coping experiences of carers who have a family member with schizophrenia. Further research is needed to identify more important detailed factors that affect the coping strategies of carers. Relevance to clinical practice. Community mental health care professionals need to improve the quality of care for helping carers living with a family member who has schizophrenia. It is important to develop effective coping intervention strategies that help carers cope with the stress and strain of caring for a family member with schizophrenia.

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