A new methodological approach in nursing research: An actor, partner, and interaction effect model for family outcomes


  • Mary Kay Rayens,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Kentucky College of Nursing
    • Colleges of Nursing and Medicine, 543 Health Sciences Learning Center, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, 760 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536-0232.
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    • Associate Professor.

  • Erla Kolbrun Svavarsdottir

    1. University of Iceland, Faculty of Nursing
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    • Associate Professor.


Methodological and statistical challenges have been identified in family research when the parental dyad is under study. The purposes of this article are to review the literature on methodological and statistical procedures in research on families, and to introduce an analysis technique that is new to the nursing literature, the actor–partner interdependence model (APIM). The use and interpretation of the APIM method is illustrated through an example of families of young children with asthma. In the APIM an actor effect is the impact a person has on his or her own outcome, whereas a partner effect is the impact a member of a dyad has on his or her partner's outcome. The main findings from the data example indicate that family adaptation is influenced by the actor effect of resiliency factors (sense of coherence and family hardiness), the partner effect of caregiving demands, as well as by both the actor and partner effects of family demands. The APIM method gives new insight into how parental data can be analyzed by taking both the individual and the partner contribution into account when studying family phenomena. Knowing how outcomes may be influenced not only by individuals (via an actor effect) but also by their partners (through a partner effect) enriches our understanding of how families function. © 2003 Wiley Perioicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 26:409–419, 2003