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Using the Concept of Family Strengths to Enhance Nursing Care


MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2007 - Volume 32 - Issue 6 - p 353–357
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000298130.16914.47
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This article was written to help nurses better understand the family strengths framework and encourage them to incorporate family strengths into the nursing care they give. In times of stress or crisis for families, nurses can use the conceptual framework of family strengths as a mechanism to promote strong, healthy relationships. The family strengths perspective identifies and builds on positive attributes in family functioning. Family strengths qualities are (a) commitment, (b) appreciation and affection, (c) positive communication, (d) time together, (e) a sense of spiritual well-being, and (f) the ability to cope with stress and crisis. With the family strengths approach, nurses help families define their visions and hopes for the future instead of looking at what factors contribute to family problems. Family strengths assessment can be used in nursing practice, nursing education, and everyday life.

Sometimes in nursing we use a “deficit” framework to describe what we are trying to do through nursing care. The Family Strengths framework turns this on its head, and asks us to examine families for their positive virtues.

Barbara J. Sittner is an Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Nursing, Lincoln.

Diane Brage Hudson is an Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Nursing, Lincoln.

John DeFrain is a Professor, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

Barbara J. Sittner may be reached via e-mail at

There are no research funding sources or financial arrangements with any companies associated with this article.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.