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Mothers’ experiences of caring for their child at home following an acute surgical procedure Gudmundsdottir, Solfirdur

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine the meaning mothers give to their family's experience when caring for their child at home following an acute surgical procedure. The information gained will provide direction for nurses who prepare parents to care for their child at home after discharge from hospital. A purposive sample of eight primary care-givers, all mothers, were interviewed for data collection. A total of 21 interviews were conducted. The children were from 7months to 14 years of age, all from dual parent families. A semi-structured guide of open-ended questions was used for the interviews. Analysis of the verbatim transcriptions began concurrently with data collection and continued during the formal analytic phase. The mothers' experiences were closely linked to a series of events beginning when the child became ill and ending when the family's activities were back to normal. The mothers' accounts were synthesized into a descriptive framework of their experiences which described three chronological phases: (1) the onset of symptoms leading to help seeking and hospitalization, (2) the hospitalization, treatment, and preparation for discharge, and (3) the care of the child at home and getting back to normal. The study's findings revealed that mothers perceived their experience as disruptive for themselves and for family life. The mothers described how uncertain they felt especially concerning the child's diagnosis, surgery, and after discharge. Related feelings of worry, anxiety, and stress were reported in varying degrees of intensity throughout their experience. New responsibilities were added to their lives and they became exhausted. The mothers used a range of coping strategies to manage the child's care as well as their own feelings. The study findings were compared to related literature for discussion. General implications for nursing practice, education, and research were presented.

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