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A longitudinal study of families with technology-dependent children

Authors

  • Valerie Boebel Toly,

    Corresponding author
    1. Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44106
    • Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44106.
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    • Assistant Professor. At the time the study was conducted, the first author was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Case Western Reserve University.

  • Carol M. Musil,

    1. Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44106
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    • Professor of Nursing.

  • John C. Carl

    1. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH
    2. Section of Pediatric Pulmonology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
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    • Associate Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine; Head, Section of Pediatric Pulmonology.


  • This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant 5T32NR009761-05), the Clinical and Translational Collaborative at Case Western Reserve, Dahms Clinical Research Unit (grant UL 1RR024989) with editorial assistance from the SMART Center in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. Funding for this study was provided by a Sigma Theta Tau International Small Grant, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Alumni Association, the Alpha Mu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, Case Western Reserve University Research ShowCASE, and the Society of Pediatric Nurses. The authors gratefully acknowledge Joyce J. Fitpatrick, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN for her assistance with review of versions of this manuscript.

Abstract

Few researchers have longitudinally examined families caring for technology-dependent children at home. We tested a theoretically and empirically based conceptual model by examining family functioning and normalization in 82 mothers (female primary caregivers) twice over 12 months. Time 1 and Time 2 cross-sectional findings were consistent; the only predictor of family functioning was mothers' depressive symptoms. Contrary to the proposed model, normalization, caregiving duration, and home nursing hours were not directly related to family functioning. Baseline family functioning significantly predicted future family functioning. Also, mothers whose children were no longer technology-dependent at Time 2 reported significant improvements in family functioning and normalization. An intervention to address high levels of depressive symptoms of these mothers is essential to optimizing family functioning. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 35:40–54, 2012

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