Parents' experiences of living through their child's suffering from and surviving severe meningococcal disease

Nurs Crit Care. Mar-Apr 2005;10(2):78-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1362-1017.2005.00080.x.


The aim of this study was to describe the lived experience of parents whose child had suffered from and survived severe meningococcal disease. A Heideggerian phenomenological approach was used within the study and data were collected from long focused interviews. In total, eight parents took part in the study; one was a woman recruited as a pilot interview and the other seven were recruited for the main study. The data were analysed using Colaizzi's (1978) method. Eleven themes emerged: (1) complications/side effects; (2) emotional turmoil; (3) child's physical appearance; (4) family disruption; (5) fear of death; (6) loss of parenting role; (7) need for support and understanding; (8) need and value of communication, information and publicity; (9) parental intuition; (10) technological interventions and (11) the impact of care delivery. A review of the literature arising out of the data was undertaken, and a final synthesis statement as perceived by the parents was achieved. Living through this experience is perceived as a major emotional stressor, and although health professionals have some insight into the experience, they are largely naive to the enormity of the situation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections / complications
  • Meningococcal Infections / psychology*
  • Meningococcal Infections / therapy
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management
  • Parents / psychology*