The Caregiver’s Experience With an Illness Blog: A Pilot Study

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Life-limiting illness affects both the ill person and family caregivers in significant ways. Illness blogs provide an innovative way for families and friends to connect as the ill person shares his/her experiences. Phenomenological methods were used to explore the experiences of family caregivers. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 9 family caregivers. The overarching theme, “we are all in this together,” emerged from the data and was supported by 3 subthemes: “enhancing communication,” “finding and accepting support,” and “navigating new roles.” “Enhancing communication” was the experience of reading the illness blog, which enhanced the caregiver’s understanding of his/her loved one’s perceptions of the illness. “Finding and accepting support” was described as seeking support from others experiencing similar situations, which provided comfort knowing that they were not alone. In addition, the illness blog offered clarification for “navigating new roles” for the family caregiver. The illness blogs became a tool for communication and connection with the ill person, leading to face-to-face conversations, support for and from others, and comfort and hope for positive outcomes. The findings of this study demonstrate an innovative approach to understanding how family caregivers and their loved ones with life-limiting illnesses communicate and enhance their relationship.

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