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Keywords:

  • acute care;
  • clinical nurse specialist practice;
  • family caregivers;
  • psychosocial aspects of illness;
  • qualitative analysis

• This paper describes the process and outcomes of a project to learn about qualitative research methods.

• A small study of family participation in decision-making was conducted with 7 family members who were interviewed after an inter-unit patient transfer.

• The data analysis used strategies derived from grounded theory, family life-cycle framework and storytelling.

• The interviews indicated respondents' concerns about the patient, their efforts to balance their lives during a time of disarray and their sorting through crises in their lives (`working through').

• `Working through' discourse has identifiable features, including: linking the past, present and future; refrains; rhetorical questions; and self-talk.

• Clinicians should encourage the `working through' process by family during the hospitalization of a family member.