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J Clin Nurs. 2006 Oct;15(10):1308-16.

Negotiation of parental roles within family-centred care: a review of the research.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, UK.



To review research published in the past 15 years about how children's nurses' negotiate with parents in relation to family-centred care.


Family-centred care is a basic tenet of children's nursing and requires a process of negotiation between health professionals and the family, which results in shared decision-making about what the child's care will be and who will provide this. The literature highlights inconsistencies in the degree to which nurses are willing to negotiate with parents and allow them to participate in decisions regarding care of their child. There is need to explore further the extent to which nurses communicate and negotiate shared care with children and their parents.


Three themes emerged from this review of the literature relating to whether role negotiation occurred in practice, parental expectations of participation in their child's care and issues relating to power and control. Parents wanted to be involved in their child's care but found that nurses' lack of communication and limited negotiation meant that this did not always occur. Nurses appeared to have clear ideas about what nursing care parents could be involved with and did not routinely negotiate with parents in this context.


For family-centred care to be a reality nurses need to negotiate and communicate with children and their families effectively. Parents need to be able to negotiate with health staff what this participation will involve and to negotiate new roles for themselves in sharing care of their sick child. Parents should be involved in the decision-making process. However, research suggests that a lack of effective communication, professional expectations and issues of power and control often inhibit open and mutual negotiation between families and nurses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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