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J Adv Nurs. 2018 Jan;74(1):100-109. doi: 10.1111/jan.13405. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Adaptive coping strategies of affected family members of a relative with substance misuse: A qualitative study.

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Program of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
Turning Point, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.



To explore the coping strategies used by affected family members of a relative with substance misuse.


Families play an important role in supporting a relative with substance misuse. However, the experience often has an adverse effect on their general well-being, the extent of which depends largely on their coping strategies.


An interpretative phenomenological analysis study. Data were collected between January - December 2015.


Semistructured, audio-recorded qualitative interviews were conducted with 31 affected family members.


Three main themes and related subthemes were abstracted from the data illustrating how participants coped with their relative's substance misuse: (1) Seeking timely access to evidence-based information; (2) Enhancing personal coping strategies and (3) Accessing informal and formal support.


Greater investment is needed in support services for affected family members, particularly in regional and rural areas. A wide range of accessible evidence-based information and informal and formal support, including telephone and online support, is needed to assist them to cope in this crucial support-giving role. Affected family members need to adopt a flexible set of coping strategies while supporting a relative with substance misuse. Family and friends, alcohol and other drug services, mental health nurses and other clinicians have a critical role providing emotional, instrumental and educational support to affected family members to enhance their adaptive coping strategies.


affected family members; alcohol and other drugs; coping strategies; nurses; nursing; qualitative research; substance misuse

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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