Evid Based Nurs 6:61 doi:10.1136/ebn.6.2.61
  • Qualitative

Families of patients with mental illness revised their ideas of what it means to live a “normal” life

 QUESTION: How do families manage the experience of mental illness?


Grounded theory.


A medical institution in the US.


29 family members (age range 18–73 y; 66% women; 66% white, 28% African-American, 7% Hispanic) of 17 patients who had schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. Patients consented to researchers contacting their relatives. Family members had ≥1 weekly contact with patients. Most patients had a history of ≥3 hospital admissions.


Three 60–90 minute semistructured interviews were planned with each family over 2 years (soon after initial contact, at 6 mo, and at 1 y). Participants were asked to talk about their experiences of the illness, observations of social or cultural issues, and thoughts about the future. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using the constant comparative method.

Main findings

The basic social problem facing families was living with the ambiguity of mental illness. This was resolved through the basic sociopsychological process of pursuing normalcy for the patient. Families expressed anger and frustration …

No Related Web Pages

Free Sample

This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of EBN.
View free sample issue >>

EBN Journal Chat

The EBN Journal Chat offers readers the opportunity to participate in discussion about research articles and commentaries from Evidence Based Nursing (EBN).

How to participate >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article