Aim. This paper reports a study whose aim was to describe how nurses in a paediatric unit promote the health of families of children with chronic conditions during the children's hospitalization.
Background. It is stressful for a family when a child has a chronic condition and hospitalized. Nurses have the opportunity to promote family health while a child is hospitalized, and previous studies contain a wealth of recommendations on how this should be done. However, there is little research evidence about family care and how nurses promote the health of a family with a chronically ill child.
Methods. Forty nurses who worked in two paediatric units providing care for children with chronic conditions and their families participated in the study. Data were collected in two Finnish hospitals in 2002 using group interviews, and nursing actions were observed in both units for a period of 84 hours. Data analysis was based on the grounded theory method, proceeding to the stage of axial coding. Data were collected until theoretical saturation was reached.
Findings. Family care was based on three distinctive strategies. Nurses used a systematic, selective or situation-specific strategy while promoting family health during a child's hospitalization.
Conclusions. The findings indicate that nurses used different strategies while promoting family health during a child's hospitalization. The systematic way of working with families identified in the study seems a useful strategy. All three strategies of family nursing described here should be tested in other paediatric wards and in other geographical locations.