Evid Based Nurs 3:134 doi:10.1136/ebn.3.4.134
  • Qualitative

Nurses and family caregivers of elderly relatives engaged in 4 evolving types of relationships

 QUESTION: What is the nature of the relationships between community nurses and family members caring for elderly relatives?


Qualitative study using a critical ethnographic approach.


Southwestern Ontario, Canada.


23 nurse-family caregiver pairs were identified from 3 community nursing agencies. Most pairs saw each other weekly and had known each other for periods ranging from 3 months to 14 years. All of the family caregivers were women (age range 33–82 y), and most provided care to their husbands who had chronic illnesses.


Family caregivers and nurses each participated in private, indepth interviews in which they talked about their experiences of working together. Data from 38 interviews (mean length 75 min) and from field notes were transcribed and analysed using, as a frame of refer-ence, Twigg and Atkin's 4 conceptualisations of response of health and social workers to family caregivers.

Main findings

Nurses and family caregivers had 4 interrelated and evolving types of relationships, each representing different conceptualisations of the roles of the nurse and the family caregiver. In nurse-helper relationships, nurses provided and …

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