Patterns of functioning in families with a chronically ill parent: An exploratory study


  • Dr. Alexa K. Stuifbergen

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    • The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, 1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701
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    • Alexa K. Stuifbergen, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.


Findings from an assessment of the pattern of functioning of families with dependent children in which one parent was chronically ill are presented. The Moos Family Environment Scale scores of 67 chronically ill individuals and their spouses were subjected to cluster analysis procedures. Four clusters of families were identified and described: cohesive, moral-religious oriented, structured conflict, and unstructured conflict. Structured conflict families possessed lower socioeconomic status and perceived greater impact of illness than cohesive families. Cluster analysis proved particularly useful because it allowed consideration of how groups of families vary from each other, as well as how specific dimensions of family functioning may covary with one another within groups.