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The Long-Term Experience of Family Life After Stroke

Kitzmüller, Gabriele; Asplund, Kenneth; Häggström, Terttu

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0b013e31823ae4a1
Article
Abstract

ABSTRACT: Stroke is a life-threatening and disabling illness known to have a significant impact on families. The purpose of this study was to illuminate the long-term experience of family life after stroke of stroke survivors and their spouses and children, particularly regarding marital and parent–child relationships. Thirty-seven narrative interviews were conducted with stroke survivors and their spouses and adult children who were minors at onset of the illness. A qualitative approach inspired by Gadamer’s hermeneutic and van Manen’s phenomenological understanding of lived experience was used. The analysis revealed four themes: the family as a lifebuoy, absent presence, broken foundations, and finding a new marital path. Lack of communication and altered roles and relationships endangered marital equilibrium and parent–child relationships after stroke. This study highlighted the need for professional family support as families were unprepared for the life changes that occurred. Nurses and other healthcare workers should examine family relationships and communication patterns and view the family as a unit composed of unique persons with different needs. Further research on the experiences of stroke survivors’ children seems urgent.

Author Information

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Gabriele Kitzmüller, MA RN LGN CNS, at gk@hin.no. She is an assistant professor of nursing in the Department of Health and Society, Narvik University College, Narvik, Norway, and a PhD student in the Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.

Kenneth Asplund, PhD MD RN, is a professor in the Department of Health Science, Mid Sweden University, Sundswall, Sweden, and in the Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.

Terttu Häggström, PhD RN PHN NT, is an associate professor of nursing in the Department of Health and Society, Narvik University College, Narvik, Norway.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Gabriele Kitzmüller, MA RN LGN CNS, at gk@hin.no. She is an assistant professor of nursing in the Department of Health and Society, Narvik University College, Narvik, Norway.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses