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Historical and contemporary conceptualizations of caregiving have not addressed the active role of care recipients within caregiver-care-recipient relationships. Using an interpretive synthesis method, the authors developed the concept of protective care-receiving from three qualitative studies of different groups of care receivers (older adults with chronic illnesses, persons with AIDS, and persons in treatment for active cancer). This paper describes the focus of care recipients’protective care-receiving efforts, the goals they hoped to achieve, and the strategies they used to assist themselves in attaining their goals. Examples of their efforts and strategies are illustrated with quotations from the data. These findings extend what is known about care recipients’selfcare activities. Moreover, the findings reveal a new dimension in the role of care recipients — protective care given by care recipients to their professional care providers, family and friend caregivers, and other care recipients. The concept of protective care-receiving advances our understanding of caregiving relationships and presents researchers with the opportunity to investigate the complex encounter between caregiver and care recipient. Recognizing and facilitating care recipients’protective care-receiving is an ethical imperative for a ‘caring’ profession such as nursing.