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Families in home care – a resource or a burden? District nurses’ beliefs


  • Eva Benzein PhD, RNT,

  • Birgitta Johansson MSc, RNT,

  • Britt-Inger Saveman PhD, RNT

Eva Benzein
Department of Health and
Behavioural Sciences
Kalmar University
SE-391 82 Kalmar
Telephone: +46(0)480 44 69 75


Background.  Caring for families in home care is a growing part of Swedish district nurses’ professional work. District nurses’ facilitative and constraining beliefs about families guide the extent to which families are acknowledged and engaged in the care.

Aims and objectives.  The aim of the study was to explore district nurses’ beliefs about families in home care.

Design.  Explorative, descriptive.

Methods.  Five district nurses participated in focus group interviews on three separate occasions. Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes, was audio taped and transcribed verbatim. A thematic content analysis was used for analyses of the data.

Results.  The result revealed two underpinning beliefs held by the district nurses towards families in home care: families are a resource and Families are a burden. Families could be a resource for the patient, for the other family members as well as for the district nurses themselves. Families could be a resource for the patient both practically and emotionally by e.g. being present and listening. Being open in communication with other family members and district nurses was also considered as a resource. The district nurses considered families as a burden when they were experienced as demanding in various ways, for example, when family members did not act in a way that pleased the district nurses or when family members showed their suffering.

Conclusions.  This study highlight some facilitating and constraining beliefs held by district nurses: families can be both a resource and a burden.

Relevance to clinical practice.  It is important that district nurses are aware of what beliefs they hold as their beliefs guide their actions towards the families.

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