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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bone marrow transplantion : the experience of family members Kerzner, Jaye C.


The purpose this qualitative study was to explore the experience of BMT from the perspective of individual family members and to describe common aspects of that experience, according to the phenomenological method. Data were collected through a series of open-ended interviews with eight family members of transplant recipients during the hospitalization phase of BMT. Initial interviews were loosely guided by research questions formulated from are view of the literature; subsequent interviews were based one mergent themes from the first interviews. The data, comprised of verbatim transcriptions of the audio taped interviews and field notes of the researcher, were analyzed using the steps outlined by Giorgi (1985) and resulted in the identification of recurrent themes. Findings revealed that family members attributed multiple meanings to bone marrow transplantation. They viewed it as a life-saving and a life-threatening event, radical treatment, pioneering venture, treatment with an unpredictable recovery period, and as an interruption in their lives. Family members were challenged by the uncertainty and disruption that BMT created in their lives. Their efforts to cope with the transplant centred around managing their emotions arising from the uncertainty and adjusting to the many disruptions in their lives. Since family members felt there was little they could do to influence the transplant outcome, they accepted uncertainty as an intrinsic part of the experience and focused on establishing and maintaining a balance between their fear and realistic hope. Family members adjusted to the disruptions in their daily life, relationships and life outlook by giving up certain daily responsibilities and taking on a support role in relation to the ill person, developing interpersonal connections with those dedicated to a positive transplant outcome and separating from those who undermined their coping, and by restricting their view of the future, redefining time and shifting priorities. The data revealed that generally, family members coped with the challenges of BMT using their own resources and abilities; however certain interpersonal and situational factors were identified which may signal a need for added support. The findings provide nurses with a better understanding of family members' responses to BMT and provide general direction for assessment of family members, predicting the difficulties family members may encounter, and helpful nursing interventions. Implications for future nursing research include further exploration of family members' experiences beyond the hospitalization phase, expansion of selected themes arising from the study, and inclusion of different sub-groups of family members whose experiences may differ from that of this study's participants.

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