Purpose: To describe the experiences and demands of families who care for their mentally ill relatives at home in Botswana.
Design: Grounded theory design with triangulated data sources.
Methods: A convenience sample was drawn from both urban and rural areas and composed of both men and women. Data-collection methods included in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and field observations. Data were collected using an interview protocol in the local language. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and translated into English. Analysis was done by open and axial coding and grouping like data together to generate core categories, using the constant comparison method.
Findings: The interview data revealed a myriad of experiences and problems that families encountered in providing care to their relatives. The situation was perceived as difficult and burdensome because of lack of control and inadequate resources. The complexity of the situation required negotiation between the family members, their ill relatives, and health professionals.
Conclusions: This study indicated some of the difficulties caregivers encounter and the coping mechanisms they use to deal with the day-to-day care of their ill relatives. Community resources are needed to assist families to effectively care for their relatives.