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

Patricia Short Tomlinson, Kathryn E. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-394
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pediatric nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992


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