Thematic analysis of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness

Title

Thematic analysis of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness

Creator

Ho A H Y; Dutta O; Tan-Ho G; Choo P Y; Low X C; Chong P H; Ng C; Ganapathy S

Publisher

BMJ Open

Date

2019

Subject

Asia; bereavement; paediatric palliative care; qualitative research; spousal relationship; thematic analysis

Description

OBJECTIVE: This is the first known study which examines the evolutionary nature of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness, from the time of providing care to their child through bereavement. This study is informed by earlier findings that when a child is diagnosed with a chronic life-threatening illness, parents are faced with multiple stressors, leaving them with little time to invest in their spousal relationship. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: A constructivist-phenomenological research paradigm was adopted and meaning-oriented interviews were conducted with 20 parental units (i.e., 6 couples, 12 lone mothers and 2 lone fathers) of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities who lost their child to chronic life-threatening illness in Singapore. RESULTS: Qualitative thematic analysis of the data revealed four themes, which describe the evolutionary nature of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness, from caregiving through bereavement. Findings reveal participants' tendency to concentrate on pragmatic, solution-focused communication during the period of caregiving (pragmatic interaction), avoid discussion about their emotional pain as a means of protecting their spouse (partner-oriented self-regulation), respect and acknowledge their spouse's personal coping strategies (empathic responding) and show greater appreciation and emotional expression within the spousal relationship after their child's death (affective appreciation). CONCLUSION: Engaging in pragmatic discussions, deferring emotion-focused and potentially distressing conversations, and acknowledging their spouse's need for personal space are important coping strategies for Asian couples facing their child's chronic life-threatening illness and in the immediate aftermath of his/her death. Bereaved couples who have processed their grief individually feel ready to share their reflections with their spouse, deriving meaning and greater relational closeness through such disclosure. These findings are discussed from a cultural lens, with recommendations for healthcare professionals working with Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness.

Rights

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Citation List Month

January 2020 List

Collection

Citation

Ho A H Y; Dutta O; Tan-Ho G; Choo P Y; Low X C; Chong P H; Ng C; Ganapathy S, “Thematic analysis of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 20, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/16868.

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