A Framework for Family Nursing

Janet Ericksen, Linda G. Leonard


A shortcoming of nursing has been its orientation toward individuals rather than social networks such as the family (Friedman, 1981; Logan, 1978; Schiarillo, 1980). It is generally accepted that health and illness behaviours are learned within the context of the family (Pratt, 1976), that the family unit is often affected when one or more of its members are experiencing a health problem (Logan, 1978), and that the effectiveness of health care can be improved by placing the emphasis on the unit rather than on just one individual (Hymovich & Barnard, 1979). However, the teaching and practice of nursing families has been made more difficult because of lack of frameworks providing direction for family nursing care.
Five years ago, faculty teaching a family course in the third year of the University of British Columbia School of Nursing recognized the need to help students more clearly conceptualize the structure, functioning and health-related needs of their clinically assigned well families. Existing frameworks and models of families were studied but the majority were better applied to families undergoing family therapy for various pathologies; other frameworks, though applicable to the study of the healthy family, were too limited in their scope of focus.

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