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Coherent Accounts of Coping with a Chronic Illness: Convergences and Divergences in Family Measurement Using a Narrative Analysis


  • Portions of this research were supported, in part, by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 MH51771-01) and W. T. Grant Foundation to the first author, and the National Institutes of Health (R01-HL53391 and M01-RR0051) to the second author. Address all correspondence to the first author at 430 Huntington Hall, Department of Psychology, Syracuse University. Syracuse, NY, 13244. Email:


Researchers and clinicians have shown increasing interest in family narratives as an avenue for accessing the family meaning-making process. In this study, we examine the convergences and divergences between narrative assessment, family self-report, and verbal accounts of family climate. Sixty-two families with a child with pediatric asthma were interviewed about the impact that asthma had on family life. These interviews were coded for narrative coherence, relationship expectations, and engagement with the interviewer. Primary caregivers were also interviewed using the Five Minute Speech sample (FMSS) and completed self-report assessments of family functioning (Family Assessment Device [FAD] Impact on the Family Scale [IOF]). Contrary to prediction. Narrative coherence was higher in those cases where Emotional Over-involvement (EOI) was present on the FMSS. Narrative coherence and engagement with the interviewer were positively related to self-report of family problem solving, communication, and affective responsiveness as measured on the FAD. Divergences and convergences between different types of family measurement are discussed in light of meaning-making processes associated with coping with a chronic illness.