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Nurses' experiences of caring for their own family members

There is a wealth of literature that addresses the needs of informal caregivers and the needs of health professionals caring for someone with a life-threatening illness. However, there is a paucity of research that deals with nurses who are caring for their own relative who has a life-threatening illness. This qualitative study explores the information needs, support systems available, and the impact that this experience has upon the nurse's quality of life. Individual semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith and Osbourne, 2003). Four superordinate themes emerged from the data: quality of life, personal and professional boundaries, disempowerment and positive aspects to the role. These themes were then linked to validated models of caregiving (Caron and Bowers 2003; Sherwood et al, 2004) to further explore their impact upon the nurse in his/her role as family carer. This study has established that nurses providing care for their own relatives have specific needs with regard to their dual role as a health professional and family carer. In understanding these specific needs, it may be possible to provide a more effective and equal level of support for these individuals. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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Br J Nurs

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