Seeking harmony in the provision of care to the stroke-impaired: views of Chinese family caregivers

J Clin Nurs. 2011 May;20(9-10):1436-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03500.x. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Aims: To explore the coping strategies of Chinese family caregivers of stroke-impaired older relatives.

Background: Many stroke-impaired patients rely heavily on support from their families, and the daily lives of such family caregivers are severely impacted. However, services and support for family caregivers of stroke-impaired relatives in the home setting have received little attention. Appropriate and relevant information and support to family caregivers are important in facilitating the care-giving task. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the nature and demands of care-giving before planning specific educational and support programmes.

Design: Grounded theory.

Methods: Fifteen Chinese family caregivers of stroke-impaired older relatives were recruited and interviewed in 2003 and 2004. Theoretical sampling and constant comparative analysis were used to recruit the sample and perform data analysis.

Results: Seeking harmony to provide care for the stroke-impaired was the core category for describing and guiding the family care-giving process, with five main stages: (1) living with ambiguity, (2) monitoring the recovery progress, (3) accepting the downfalls, (4) meeting family obligations and (5) reconciling with harmony. These issues were seldom discussed openly with health professionals.

Conclusions: The findings indicated that Chinese family caregivers determine their own needs by seeking harmony to continue to provide care without thinking about getting help from others or their own health problems. These findings help to define some of the complex dynamics that have an impact on the development of partnership care and might challenge nurses practising in the community.

Relevance to clinical practice: Community nurses should assess and understand the coping strategies of family caregivers and assist them to engage in stress-reducing practices. This is an important partnership to be formed in stroke care for family caregivers in the community. The study findings will guide further development of family care-giving aspects in nursing practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • China
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke / nursing*