Family Interviews as a Method for Family Research

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This paper is a description of the experience of conducting family interviews in a study to come to understand from families their experience of the hospitalization of a critically ill family member. Traditional family research has been done quantitatively, with a focus on the needs of individual family members rather than the family as a whole. The limited amount of qualitative family research has been done primarily by interviewing individual family members rather than the family as a group. The original study was conducted within a framework of phenomenology and 11 families, for a total of 41 individuals, were interviewed about their experiences. Family groups from two to seven members, some including adolescents and young adults, participated in semi-structured interviews. Findings revealed that gathering families together, even early in the critical illness experience, is not only feasible but beneficial for them and opens the door to dialogues that have a therapeutic effect on the family and help them manage the critical illness experience. Although daunting and challenging, family interviews are feasible and provide rich family-level data that contribute knowledge to family science and family caring. Strategies for family recruitment, conduct of family interviews and family-level data analysis are presented. Families want to tell their stories and clearly have a need for nurses to develop relationships with them while caring for their ill loved ones. Family interviews both affirm the family and give nurses greater understanding of family issues, concerns and meanings.

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Journal of Advanced Nursing

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