• content analysis;
  • experiences;
  • knowledge need;
  • relatives;
  • stroke

Aim and objectives.  To explore relatives’ information needs and the characteristics of their information-seeking process shortly after the stroke event and six months later.

Background.  Providing relatives of stroke survivors with information is important, as lack of information increases their uncertainty and risk becoming the ‘second patient in the family’ and early death. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of relatives’ information needs and information-seeking process the first six months after stroke.

Design.  This qualitative study has a descriptive design.

Method.  Open-ended interviews were conducted with sixteen relatives after stroke survivor’s admission to stroke unit and six months later with nine of these relatives. Data were analysed by means of content analysis.

Results.  The identified information needs covered the spectrum from stroke survivor’s medical condition because nurses’ actions to relatives’ changed health and life situation. Furthermore, relatives’ information-seeking process was found to be related to their level of personal involvement, situational circumstances, different forms of knowledge and sources of information.

Conclusions.  Relatives’ search for information emerges when health and lifestyle changes occur in survivors or themselves. It is important that this information affect them personally. Also, they need to develop different forms of knowledge when they cannot trust their own competences. As a result, instead of following established curricula based on their beliefs of relatives’ information needs, nurses need to practice on identifying relatives’ information needs.

Relevance to practice.  Different information needs and characteristics described in the study can serve as guidance in the development and implementation of pedagogical interventions to support relatives of stroke survivors. One pedagogical implication is to explore what a specific relative wants to know by how he/she talks or thinks about it. Thus, it must be taken into consideration that level of personal involvement, situational circumstances, sources of information and factual knowledge, understanding and skills are intertwined.