Caring for a child with a progressive illness during the complex chronic phase: parents' experience of facing adversity

J Adv Nurs. 1997 Apr;25(4):738-45. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1997.1997025738.x.


The qualitative study explored the day-to-day experiences of parents caring at home for a child with a progressive life-threatening illness at a certain point in their illness trajectory. This point in the trajectory is when the child lives with a complex chronic condition, and is in need of specialized and time-consuming care, but is not yet in a terminal phase. The naturalistic research design of phenomenology was chosen for the study's methodology. Parents' experiences of caring for their child were conceptualized as an ongoing process of 'facing adversity', as parents had continuously to redefine and then manage those changes resulting from the progressive nature of their child's condition. Concepts of normalization and chronic sorrow are considered in the conceptualization, as are the challenges of caregiving (particularly of mothers) who faced many hardships in their role, including the myriad of changes related to the increased burden of care. Implications for nursing practice are identified.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Brain Diseases / nursing
  • Brain Diseases / psychology*
  • British Columbia
  • Case Management
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / nursing
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Home Nursing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophies / nursing
  • Muscular Dystrophies / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Respite Care
  • Social Support
  • Women / psychology