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Regenerating Family: Strengthening the Emotional Health of Mothers and Children in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence

Wuest, Judith PhD, RN; Merritt-Gray, Marilyn MN, RN; Ford-Gilboe, Marilyn PhD, RN


Although concern for their children's well-being is pivotal in mothers' decisions to leave abusive partners, rarely is lone-parent family life after leaving framed as beneficial for family members' emotional health. In this feminist grounded theory study of family health promotion in the aftermath of intimate partner violence, we learned that families strengthen their emotional health by purposefully replacing previously destructive patterns of interaction with predictable, supportive ways of getting along in a process called regenerating family. These findings add to our knowledge of family development and how families promote their health when they have experienced intimate partner violence.

Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada (Dr Wuest and Ms Merritt-Gray); and the School of Nursing, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada (Dr Ford-Gilboe).

Corresponding author: Judith Wuest, PhD, RN, Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 4400, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 5A3 (e-mail:

We thank the families for their generosity in participating in this study. We also acknowledge the contribution of Helene Berman, PhD, RN, to early analysis. This research was supported by the Medical Research Council/Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating grant 15156 and the National Health Research and Development Program/Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant 44638.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.