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Gerontologist. 2018 Dec 19. doi: 10.1093/geront/gny158. [Epub ahead of print]

The Predictors of and Motivations for Increased Family Involvement in Nursing Homes.

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Department of Family Science and Social Work, Oxford, Ohio.
Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Independent Gerontology Consultant, West Hartford, Connecticut.


Background and Objectives:

Quantitative and qualitative data from a statewide survey of family members of nursing home residents were analyzed to determine the predictors of, and motivations for, family involvement.

Research Design and Methods:

We examined 3 types of involvement: visiting, providing personal care, and family-staff communication. Our mixed methods approach used (a) multilevel regression models to examine predictors of family involvement, including family member perceptions and resident, family member, and facility characteristics, and (b) a thematic analysis of qualitative data regarding the experiences of family members and their motivations for involvement.


Families were more involved when a short-term stay (<3 months) was expected, and when residents were in poorer physical condition. Spouses and female family members were more involved than others, yet the effect of gender varied by relationship type. At the facility level, families of residents in rural facilities reported less family involvement. Aside from these commonalities, predictors of each type of involvement varied. Themes from the qualitative data identify unique motivations for each type of involvement-to enhance residents' identity, care, or quality of life.


Families visit more and provide more hands-on assistance when they are not confident in the care being provided or the well-being and stability of their resident loved one. Receiving adequate information, perceiving staff as friendly, and residents as looking well cared for promote greater family-staff communication.


Findings can inform strategies to increase meaningful family involvement in nursing homes.


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