Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Public Health. 2017 Feb;45(1):42-49. doi: 10.1177/1403494816680802.

How can professionals carry out recognition towards children of parents with alcohol problems? A qualitative interview study.

Author information

1 Health Services Research Unit (HØKH), Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway.
2 Research Unit for General Practice, Uni Research Health, Bergen, Norway.
3 Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
4 The Research Unit for General Practice and Section of General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



The aim of this study was to explore informal adult support experienced by children with parental alcohol problems to understand how professionals can show recognition in a similar way.


We conducted a qualitative interview study with retrospective accounts from nine adults growing up with problem-drinking parents. Data were analysed with systematic text condensation. Goffman's concept "frame" offered a lens to study how supportive situations were defined and to understand opportunities and limitations for translation of recognition acts and attitudes to professional contexts.


Analysis demonstrated frames of commonplace interaction where children experienced that adults recognised and responded to their needs. However, the silent support from an adult who recognised the problems without responding was an ambiguous frame. The child sometimes felt betrayed. Concentrating on frames of recognition which could be passed over to professional interactions, we noticed that participants called for a safe harbour, providing a sense of normality. Being with friends and their families, escaping difficulties at home without having to tell, was emphasised as important. Recognition was experienced when an adult with respect and dignity offered an open opportunity to address the problems, without pushing towards further communication.


Our study indicates some specific lessons to be learnt about recognition for professional service providers from everyday situations. Frames of recognition, communicating availability and normality, and also unconditional confidentiality and safety when sharing problems may also be offered by professionals in public healthcare within their current frames of competency and time.


Alcohol problems; childhood; primary care; public health; qualitative interviews; recognition; social interaction

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center