Father's experiences of involvement in the daily care of their child with developmental disability in a Chinese context

Yu-Ping Huang, Shu-Ling Chen, Sen-Wei Tsai
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2012, 21 (21): 3287-96

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study explored Taiwanese fathers' experience of involvement in the daily care of a child with developmental disability within Chinese culture.

BACKGROUND: Most studies on parents' experiences of having a child with a disability have focused on mothers or mixed fathers' voices with mothers'. Focussing only on mothers and ignoring fathers may hinder the latter's engagement with their child's care and encourage traditional or detached fathering roles.

DESIGN: A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was applied to explore and interpret fathers' experience.

METHOD: Sixteen fathers were purposively sampled from a medical centre in central Taiwan. All participants were interviewed twice with semi-structured and in-depth interviews. All transcripts and journal notes were analysed with the hermeneutic circle to achieve thick descriptions that richly described the meaning of fathers' experience.

RESULTS: Analysis of interviews with fathers on their experiences of raising the disabled child at home revealed three shared meanings: keeping hope alive, concerns about quality of medical care and maximising family function.

CONCLUSIONS: Hope for their disabled child's good outcome and future was highly significant for these fathers, but hope was diminished when their child received poor medical care or their own ability was too poor to care for the disabled child. However, fathers still did not give up working for their children and for the well-being of their families and society.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Nurses should acknowledge that fathers' involvement in their disabled child's care can contribute to the well-being of both child and family. Also, nurses should educate parents on the best possible ways to help their child. Finally, nurses need to encourage discussions between parents and professionals about their own and the family's situation to develop a trusting and equal parent-professional relationship, thus alleviating fathers' concerns and better meeting the child's care needs.


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