The Stress of Caring for Children With Asthma: A Qualitative Study of Primary Caregivers

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Abstract

Background:

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. The unpredictability, frequency, and health risks associated with acute asthma attacks have a profound impact on the daily lives of affected children and their families. Understanding the experiences of primary caregivers may help nurses provide better care to children with asthma.

Purpose:

This study explores the experience of primary caregivers in providing care to children with asthma.

Methods:

The study used exploratory and descriptive research methods and collected data using a qualitative research interview approach. Seventeen primary caregivers of children with asthma who visited the allergy clinics of two medical centers and one regional hospital in northern Taiwan participated in the study. An interview guide with a semistructured questionnaire was used, and verbatim transcripts of the audiotape-recorded interviews were analyzed using content analysis.

Results:

The findings are described in three themes covering 10 categories. These themes and categories include feelings of uncertainty during illness (disease as perception related, lack of information), feelings of chaos and instability (worry, fear, frustration, helplessness, physical distress), and social tension and family conflict (disorientation of daily activity and burden of care, economic burden, family tensions and disagreements).

Conclusions:

Negative experiences with asthma care and the unpredictability of the disease outcomes impair the ability of caregivers to adapt successfully to their caregiving role and encourage perceptions that they cannot cope with this illness. Better understanding the caregiver experience may assist healthcare providers to better target support to these caregivers so that they are better able to care for children with asthma.

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