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Parents' Experiences in Role Negotiation Within an Infant Services Program

Hurtubise, Karen MRSc, BSc, PT; Carpenter, Christine PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3182008b39

Effective partnerships between families and health providers have been identified as the cornerstone of family-centered care. Role negotiation between parents and rehabilitation professionals is recognized as a key component to developing this effective partnership. The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions of the role-negotiation process among parents of young children. An exploratory qualitative research approach was used and in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 parents of children under the age of 3 years who were receiving services through an early intervention rehabilitation program. A 6-phase interpretive thematic framework guided the data analysis. Two major themes emerged from the data: (1) roles and expectations, and (2) the evolution of a symbiotic relationship. Parents recognized and defined the roles they assumed in their child's care and had distinct expectations of the roles attributed to rehabilitation professionals. No formalized role-negotiation process was identified. Instead, the evolution of a symbiotic parent-professional relationship was described, in which dependency on professionals to meet parent specific needs subsequently fostered their assumption of primary responsibility. This relationship appeared to be the precursor to the development of effective parent-professional collaboration and key to parent satisfaction with rehabilitation services.

Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Ms Hurtubise); and Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom (Ms Carpenter).

Correspondence: Karen Hurtubise, MRSc, BSc, PT, Alberta Children's Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3B 6A8, Canada (

We thank the parents who so willingly shared their experiences with us, and the administration and colleagues in the Neurosciences Program at the Alberta Children's Hospital, for their support during the study.

This study was conducted as part of the requirement of the online Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences program at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the article.

©2011Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.