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Family Relationships in the Context of Palliative Care


The current ANS featured article explores the challenges that families face when one of their loved ones is receiving palliative care.  The article, titled “A Valuable but Demanding Time: Family Life During Advanced Cancer in an Elderly Family Member” by Marianne Fjose, MScN, RN; Grethe Eilertsen, PhD; Marit Kirkevold, EdD; and Ellen Karine Grov, PhD is available at no charge while it is featured on the ANS website! Marianne Fjose shared this message for ANS readers about her work:

My mentors Dr Ellen Karine Grov, Dr Marit Kirkevold, Dr Grethe Eilertsen and I are pleased to share this article

Marianne Fjose

Marianne Fjose

with ANS readers. The article is part of my PhD project aimed to explore how elderly patients with advanced cancer in the palliative phase and their nearest family members experiences their relationships.

As a nurse and nurse educator, I have always been interested in palliative care. My masters degree therefore focused on how patients with cancer in the palliative phase experienced their close relationships. In this project, I discovered that little knowledge existed about family relationships within palliative care. We do know that cancer in a palliative phase not only affect the patient, but also his or her family members and the entire life of the family. Knowledge about how family relationships, interactions, and communication patterns are affected are sparse. Therefore, this became the focus for my PhD project.

 “A valuable but demanding time” is the first article in this project. Additionally two articles are in process. They will report findings about different family caregiver groups (e.g. spouses and

Grethe Eilertsen

Grethe Eilertsen

children/children-in-law) perspectives on caregiver burden and social support, and patients and family

members’ experiences with the health care system. Family group interviews is the main data collection method. In addition, quantitative data are collected by means of two standardized measures: CRA: The Caregiver Reaction Assessment and SPS: Social Provisions Scale.

The experience to sit down, communicate, and listen to families experiencing such a hard time in life has been challenging, but foremost educational. I think of the families with gratitude and respect for sharing with me their thoughts and experiences.

We think that the family group interviews have been an advantage in this study, bringing the perspectives of different family members to the research topic. In addition, this has given us the opportunity to collect data about family interactions and communication, data that are hard to achieve through individual interviews. Many of the

Marit Kirkevold

Marit Kirkevold

findings in our study regarding what was important and difficult in relationships were not revealed through the manifest content of the text. Instead, these results were uncovered from the latent content in the conversations, that is, through the way patients and family members talked, and acted. However, further methodological research is needed to evaluate the strengths and limitations of this method in different contexts.

Ellen Karine Grov

Ellen Karine Grov

One Comment Post a comment
  1. lisanem57 #

    I am a cancer survivor, stage 4 breast cancer with bone mets. For years when I was first diagnosed I attended a support group facilitated by a very talented MSW. Many times members would bring their families in to discuss palliative care, most of the time this was done to get the group’s support as the patient would want palliative care and the family would not. When your “dancing” with cancer you are tired and it’s difficult to advocate for yourself, especially when so many you love and care for are opposed. It almost seems like a selfish act. I look forward to the articles.

    January 18, 2017

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