• pattern recognition;
  • caring;
  • partnership;
  • Newman's theory of health;
  • family;
  • nursing intervention;
  • cancer;
  • meaning;
  • consciousness

Pattern recognition as a caring partnership in families with cancer

The purpose of this study was to address the process of a caring partnership by elaborating pattern recognition as nursing intervention with families with cancer. It is based on Newman's theory of health as expanding consciousness within the unitary-transformative paradigm and is an extension of a previous study of Japanese women with ovarian cancer. A hermeneutic, dialectic method was used to engage 10 Japanese families in which the wife-mothers were hospitalized because of cancer diagnosis. The family included at least the woman with cancer and her primary caregiver. Each of four nurse-researchers entered into partnership with a different family and conducted three interviews with each family. The participants were asked to describe the meaningful persons and events in their family history. The family's story was transmuted into a diagram of sequential patterns of interactional configurations and shared with the family at the second meeting. Evidence of pattern recognition and insight into the meaning of the family pattern were identified further in the remaining meetings. The data revealed five dimensions of a transformative process. Most families found meaning in their patterns and made a shift from separated individuals within the family to trustful caring relationships. One-third of them went through this process within two interviews. The families showed increasing openness, connectedness and trustfulness in caring relationships. In partnership with the family, each nurse-researcher grasped the pattern of the family as a whole and experienced the meaning of caring. Pattern recognition as nursing intervention was a meaning-making transforming process in the family–nurse partnership.