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Family-centred care of children in hospital – a concept analysis


  • Gitte Mikkelsen,

    1. Gitte Mikkelsen MNSc RN CCRN Clinical Nurse Specialist Paediatric Intensive Care Unit BRITA, Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Department, Odense University Hospital, Denmark
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  • Kirsten Frederiksen

    1. Kirsten Frederiksen MEd PhD RN Associate Professor School of Public Health, Department of Nursing Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark
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mikkelsen g. & frederiksen k. (2011) Family-centred care of children in hospital – a concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(5), 1152–1162.


Aim.  This paper reports a concept analysis of family-centred nursing care of hospitalized children.

Background.  Family-centred care describes a practice aimed towards involving the family in all aspects of care. Previous analyses explore the colloquial use of the concept. An increasing amount of scientific papers apply the concept with seemingly little consistency in use.

Data sources.  A systematic literature search including articles from 1951 to 2009 resulted in a sample of 25 research articles.

Review methods.  A theoretical concept analysis influenced by Risjord’s distinction between theoretical and colloquial analyses and based on the principles developed by Morse, Hupcey and Penrod was used to examine the structure and scientific maturity of the concept.

Findings.  There is good agreement on the defining attributes of the concept, but they are described by sub concepts in need of clarification. The relationship between family and professionals is characterized by a mutual dependency and shared responsibility for the child’s care, which may have both positive and negative consequences and holds potential areas of conflict not fully explained by the attribute of partnership. The nature of partnership remains unclear and it may therefore not yet be a relevant attribute. The concept is defined from the perspective of professionals and families, mostly represented by mothers. Few attempts have been made to operationalize the concept.

Conclusion.  Family-centred care is a partially mature and highly abstract concept. Developing a theory of family-centred care could position the concept in a theoretical context and should also include the perspective of the sick child.