Lived Experiences of Caring for a Family Member with Schizophrenia

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 11:10 AM

Anlee Birch-Evans, PhD
Rae W. Langford, EdD
Anne Young, RN, EdD
Lene Symes, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Houston, TX

Learning Objective 1: 1. Identify the Caregiver Sustainability Model as a strong platform for assessing the level of caregiver functionality on a continuum of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Learning Objective 2: 2. Understand the importance of professional and informal caregiver collaboration as an essential element in providing optimum care to individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Purpose: The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological research study was to describe and construct how family caregivers have survived and sustained while caring for their family member diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Methods: The study gathered seventeen audio-taped interviews with purposively selected caregivers of family members with schizophrenia.  The philosophical underpinnings of Ricoeur guided the researcher’s interpretation of the actual lived and human experience of caring for a family member diagnosed with schizophrenia.   Using a hermeneutic circle, transcribed transcripts were analyzed for common themes, differences, and patterns. Insight was gained regarding factors that foster certain caregiver's ability to defy the odds in surviving and sustaining while committing the patient in times of crisis, quality of resources, medication management, and violent and bizarre behavior.   Results: The analysis resulted in two overarching themes: Surviving and Sustainability. The research study also yielded four dichotomous themes: Beginning/Settling In; Getting through the Day/Disruption; Isolation/Inclusion; Frustration/Satisfaction.  A sustainability model was formulated that succinctly describes the cyclic movement of the lived experience on a continuum of surviving and sustaining.  Conclusion: Caregiving is not static, it occurs on a continuum with periods of just getting through the day, feelings of depression, frustration of care delivery, and settling in to the  inevitability of the diagnosis and finding satisfaction within the context of the role as caregiver. There is a point at which the caregiver can maintain on a continuum between a combination of individual intrinsic and extrinsic factors that eventually allows for some measure of stability.