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The Growing Specialty of Family Nursing

Stephanie Hursey

University of Phoenix

Concepts of Family Nursing Theory

NUR 464

Mrs. Janice Hess

Jan 20, 2007

The Growing Specialty of Family Nursing

The family's health has become an important focus on health care today. Nursing research has transitioned from client centered care to viewing the client within the context of the family. Changing family dynamics and functions have made an impact on its health. Researchers have written materials that give explanation to the reasons for the evolving family and its impact on society. This paper provides insight on what constitutes a family, why family is important to nurses, how the family has changed and the writer's view of family health nursing.

Family is a group of people who are related or connected through a common bound. They rely on each other for support, identity, stabilization. Through the interaction of family the members derive their meaning of life and the society around them. Through family the members gain an understanding of their place in society, develop social etiquette, self-worth and values. What constitutes a family is an ever evolving question. The family is comprised of a variety of interdependent relationships and individuals today. Many sociologists have formed a definition of family. What is interesting to note is that individuals have their own definition of family and who they consider family. It is best for the nurse in caring for a family to ask the patient who he or she considers to be family. Per Friedman, Bowden and Jones (2003) the only "sure" way of determining who the individual client's family is, is to ask him or her.

The family is an important focus for nurses because the family helps to influence and care for their loved ones who are our patients. Through the family patients derive their meaning of sickness and wellness. The family is the basic unit in which health and healthy life styles are defined for its members. In order for a nurse to be effective in teaching or guiding a patient to self change in his or her health and healthy life style, the family must be included. The nurse must first assess the patient's view of health and the family's view of health. Understanding their views will assist the nurse in identifying holes, gaps and unhealthy thinking and help formulate a care plan for the patient and family. According to Stanhope and Lancaster (2004) the family is a major influence on the individual's concept of health and illness. It is within the family a person's sense of self-esteem and personal competence is developed. The action taken by or for the person with a health problem depends on this sense of self-worth and the family's definition of illness.

The definition and demographics of the family is ever evolving with the changes in society. It is important for nurse to keep themselves informed and up-to-date about demographic trends pertaining to children and families per Stanhope and Lancaster (2004). Changing demographics have implications for planning health, developing community resources, and becoming politically active, so that scarce funds and resources can be made available for health services needed by the growing and diverse population Stanhope and Lancaster (2004).

The family has changed in its structure. The traditional family of father, mother and children is long gone as the norm of society. Today the family is represented by single-mother households, single father households, unmarried couples living together with or without children and teenage mothers. As a result of society accepting individual's choices in managing their own lives the family portrait has a variety looks. The family portrait now may depict the single mother with children, the single father with children, same sex couples with or without children, grandparents raising grandchildren, married couples with step or foster children and married couples without children. One definite change is the size of the family. The family has become smaller in size. Per Rozen (1996) the American family unit is changing. In the 1980s, Americans created 16% more new households, yet population rose just 10%. That means households are getting smaller. The average family size is down 5%. The fastest growing household segments from 1990 to 2000 are going to be married couples with no children, single father households and non-traditional households. Families, in the traditional sense, still account for 71% of households, but the number is shrinking. Meanwhile, household income will rise 40% more in the 1990s than in the previous decade.

The family has changed in its function. Six traditional family functions are summarized by Stanhope and Lancaster (2004):

Ð'* Families exit to achieve financial survival. Families are economic units to which all members contribute and from which



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