Article| Volume 7, ISSUE 6, P386-394, December 1992

On the nature of social support for families of critically ill children

      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.


      The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of family social support during an acute life-threatening health crisis of a child. A convenience sample of 10 families was obtained from two pediatric care units (PICUs) in a major midwestern metropolitan area. Tape-recorded interviews of parents took place in the hospital 2 to 13 days after admission to the PICU. The Family Crisis Support Interview (FCSI) was developed from existing literature on social support with content selected for specificity to this population. Qualitative analysis was used to reduce verbatim interview transcription data into four major categories with related themes. Results suggest that for these families (a) costs of support received sometimes outweighed the perceived benefits; (b) the benefit of the social network to parents was influenced by its density and level of connectedness; (c) mothers received more network support than fathers; and (d) dyadic cohesion was a central factor in perceptions of overall support. Interpretation of the data include general applications to family nursing management in pediatric critical care.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


        • Bott E.
        Family and social network.
        Free Press, New York, NY1971
        • Brandt P.
        Clinical assessment of the social support of families with handicapped children.
        Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing. 1984; 7: 187-201
        • Chesler M.A.
        • Barbarin O.A.
        Difficulties of providing help in a crisis: Relationships between parents of children with cancer and their friends.
        Journal of Social Issues. 1984; 40: 113-134
        • Cronenwett L.R.
        • Kunst-Wilson W.
        Stress, social support and the transition to fatherhood.
        Nursing Research. 1981; 30: 196-201
        • Dimond M.
        Social support and adaptation to chronic illness: The case of maintenance hemodialysis.
        Research in Nursing and Health. 1979; 2: 101-108
        • Hanson D.
        • Johnson V.
        Rethinking family stress theory: Definitional aspects.
        in: Burr W. Hill R. Nye F.I. Reiss I. Contemporary theories about the family. Free Press, New York, NY1979: 582-603
        • Hill R.
        Generic features of families under stress.
        in: Parad H. Crisis intervention: Selected readings. Family Service Association of America, New York, NY1965: 32-52
        • Kahn R.
        • Antonucci T.
        Convoys over the life course: attachment, roles, and social support.
        in: Life-span development and behavior. Vol. 3. Academic Press, New York1980: 254-286
        • Kerlinger F.N.
        Foundations of Behavioral Research.
        in: 2nd ed. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc, New York1973: 525-534
        • Lein L.
        Male participation in home life: Impact of social support and breadwinning responsibilities on the allocation of tasks.
        Family Coordinator. 1979; 28: 489-495
        • Levinson D.J.
        Seasons of a man's life.
        Random House, New York, NY1978
        • Lieberman M.A.
        • Mullan J.T.
        Does help help? The adaptive consequences of obtaining help from professionals and social networks.
        American Journal of Community Psychology. 1978; 6: 499-517
        • Lynn M.
        Determination and quantification of content validity.
        Nursing Research. 1986; 35: 382-385
        • McCubbin M.
        • McCubbin H.
        Family stress theory and assessment, the T-Double ABCX model of family adjustment and adaptation.
        in: McCubbin H. Thompson A. Family assessment interventories for research and practice. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI1987: 3-32
        • McCubbin H.
        • Patterson J.
        Family stress adaptation to crisis: A double ABCX model of family behavior.
        in: Family studies review yearbook. Vol. 1. Sage, Beverly Hills, CA1983: 87-106
        • Miles M.
        • Huberman A.M.
        Qualitative data analysis: A Sourcebook of new methods.
        Sage, Beverly Hills, CA1984
        • Miller J.B.
        What do we mean by relationships?.
        Stone Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA1986 (Work in progress #22)
        • Mishel M.A.
        • Braden C.J.
        Uncertainty as a mediator between support and adjustment.
        Western Journal of Nursing Research. 1987; 9: 43-57
        • Murphy S.A.
        Self-efficacy and social support.
        Western Journal of Nursing Research. 1987; 9: 58-86
        • Nuckolls C.B.
        • Cassel J.
        • Kaplan B.H.
        Psychosocial assets, life crisis and prognosis of pregnancy.
        American Journal of Epidemiology. 1972; 95: 431-441
        • Norbeck J.S.
        • Sheiner M.
        Sources of social support related to single parent functioning.
        Research in Nursing and Health. 1982; 5: 3-12
        • Oiler C.J.
        The phenomenological approach in nursing research.
        Nursing Research. 1982; 5: 49-65
        • Sabbeth B.F.
        • Levanthal J.M.
        Marital adjustment to chronic childhood illness: A critique of the literature.
        Pediatrics. 1984; 73: 762-768
        • Sandelowski M.
        The problem of rigor in qualitative research.
        Advances in Nursing Science. 1986; 8: 27-37
        • Shinn M.
        • Lehmann S.
        • Wong N.W.
        Social interaction and social support.
        Journal of Social Issues. 1984; 40: 55-76
        • Slavinsky A.T.
        • Kraus J.B.
        Two approaches to the management of long-term psychiatric outpatients in the community.
        Nursing Research. 1982; 31: 284-289
        • Spiegelberg H.
        The essentials of phenomenological method.
        in: The Phenomenological Movement. Martinus Nijoff, The Hague, The Netherlands1984: 1-24
        • Stiver I.F.
        The meaning of care: Reframing treatment models.
        Stone Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA1985 (Work in progress #20)
        • Surrey J.L.
        Self in relation: A theory of women's development.
        Stone Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA1984 (Work in progress #13)
        • Tilden V.P.
        Issues of conceptualization and measurement of social support in the construction of nursing theory.
        Research in Nursing and Health. 1985; 8: 199-206
        • Tilden V.P.
        • Gaylen R.D.
        Cost and conflict. The darker side of social support.
        Western Journal of Nursing Research. 1987; 9: 9-18
        • Tilden V.
        • Nelson C.
        • May B.
        Use of qualitative method to enhance content validity.
        Nursing Research. 1990; 39: 172-175
        • Tolsdorf C.C.
        Social network, support, and coping: An exploratory study.
        Family Process. 1976; 15: 407-415
        • Unger D.G.
        • Powell D.R.
        Supporting families under stress: The role of social networks.
        Family Relationships. 1980; 29: 566-574
        • Waltz C.
        • Strickland O.
        • Lenz E.
        Measurement in nursing research.
        in: Davis, Philadelphia, PA1984: 255-270
        • Wortman C.B.
        Social support and the cancer patient: Conceptual and methodological issues.
        Cancer. 1984; 53 (Suppl.): 2339-2360