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Making life work for both themselves and their parents alone- how children aged 11-16 view themselves in relation to their chronically ill parents in a primary health care setting

Journal article
Authors C. Oja
T. Edbom
A. Nager
Jörgen Månsson
S. Ekblad
Published in International Journal of Adolescence and Youth
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 408-420
ISSN 0267-3843
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 408-420
Language en
Keywords Children of impaired parents, primary health care, parent-child relations, medical ethics, qualitative research, health promotion, mental-illness, experiences, adolescent, transmission, depression, disorders, Psychology
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


This study explores the main concern and life strategies of children whose parents are chronically ill in a Primary Health Care (PHC) center in Stockholm, Sweden. Data was collected through semi-structured individual interviews, and qualitative inductive constant comparative analysis resulted in a conceptual model. The two main strategies the children used were to understand the situation and to adopt a parental role. Children saw themselves as main contributors into the functioning of their families. Results show that these children also viewed their situation as difficult. It is an important mental health task for professionals in PHC to reach out and inform both ill parents and their children that children are very interested and involved in their parents' health. These children need respect for both their capacity and their vulnerability as they struggle to make life stable and functional for themselves and their parents. Further research and development of appropriate interventions are needed in this ethically challenging area.

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