A Family-Focused Perspective on Chronic Illness


  • Lori A. Butcher MS RN

    Staff Nurse, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Lori A. Butcher is a staff nurse at Horn Memorial Hospital in Ida Grove, IA; an adjunct faculty member at Morningside College in Sioux City, IA; and vice president of Horn Video Productions, a nurse-owned company that produces videotapes on the use of research.

RR 1, Box 125, Holstein, IA 51025.


The care of the chronically ill traditionally has focused on the individual who has the illness. Nursing has always emphasized including the family in care, but very few protocols dealing with chronic illness focus on the family as the unit of care. In this article, the author presents a new approach to the care of families affected by chronic illness, applying concepts of the family health system (Anderson & Tomlinson, 1992) to chronic illness. The protocol described, which includes nursing assessments and interventions, groups areas of family experience into five types of processes: interactive, developmental, coping, integrity, and health processes. The protocol presented is an example of an innovative, holistic, family-focused perspective on the care of those with chronic illness.