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Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Apr;45(4):543-51. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Transition experience of parents caring of children with epilepsy: a phenomenological study.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Institute of Clinical Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, No. 155, Sec. 2, Lih-Nong St., Taipei (112), Taipei, Taiwan ROC.



Families who have a child with epilepsy show a significant impact on both the dynamics of the child's development and family systems in a social context. Knowledge of a family's lived experience in dealing with the early stages of their child's illness will provide a deeper understanding of their life and coping process. Most studies have focused on the child's developmental issues, parental attitudes, coping strategies and the child's adjustment. In order to assist families to cope with the early stage of having a child with epilepsy, nurses need to understand the nature of a family's lived experience.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the essence of the family health-illness transition experience from the parental perspective when a child is afflicted with epilepsy.


Colaizzi's phenomenological approach was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten couples with regard to the first one and a half years after the diagnosis of epilepsy.


Ten couples from two medical centers in Taiwan participated in the study. The age range of the children at diagnosis was 0.2-4.3 years.


Open attitude and imaginative variation techniques were used to investigate the meanings of the experience. This study used Colaizzi's method with both destructured and restructured analysis. Lincoln and Guba's trustworthiness criteria were employed to evaluate methodological rigor.


Three concepts emerged: parents' psychological reactions, parental coping patterns and family resources. The parents' psychological reaction was that of being emotionally traumatized and physically exhausted. Parental coping patterns were vigilant parenting and aimed at reframing roles, facing the social challenge and assisting the child's social re-integration. The nature of family resources was family resiliency. The findings provide a scientific knowledge base for nurses when assisting parents and children during the health to illness transitional phase following a diagnosis of epilepsy.

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