Gaining Control: Family Members Relate to Persons with Severe Mental Illness

Linda E. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Decades of empirical research regarding families of persons with serious mental illnesses has documented the stress and burden associated with the caregiving role. Recent changes in health care delivery have increased responsibilities of family caregivers without appreciably alleviating their stress. The complexities of the caregiving role need to be investigated if effective interventions are to be realized. To date, a critical but understudied area of investigation is the meaning of this experience for family caregivers and how that meaning affects their responses to the caregiving role. The purpose of this interpretive study was to increase understanding of the meaning of caregiving that caregivers derived from ongoing interactions with the ill relative. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 family caregivers of psychiatric inpatients. Thematic analysis of the textual data revealed that the meaning of caregiving was constituted by the following concerns: finding the essence of the person obscured by the illness, finding a place for self in influencing the illness, and helping the relative to move forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregiving
  • Family
  • Mental illness
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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