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Young people's perspectives on open communication between family members when a parent is dying

Turner, Nicola

Authors

Nicola Turner



Abstract

Objective: Living with a parent who is approaching the end of life is profoundly troubling for young people. Research indicates that family communication about life-limiting parental illness can influence how young people manage living with dying. In particular, open communication between family members has been shown to be helpful. This paper reports on a study of young people’s experiences of family interaction when a parent is dying and considers the practice of open communication in the context of young people’s involvement in giving and receiving family care.

Methods: A narrative approach was employed based on in-depth semistructured interviews with 10 young people (aged 13–21) living with a parent thought to be in the last year of life.

Results: Young people’s attitudes toward open communication between family members were more ambivalent and ambiguous than previous research suggests. Parental attempts at open communication were sometimes overlooked by young people, indicating that there may be differences between knowledge given and young people’s acknowledgment of sensitive information. Some young people valued open communication as a signifier of the close relationships between family members, while others wanted to exercise more control over what they knew, when, and how. Young people’s accounts challenged the positioning of young people as passive recipients of information. Young people were active in shaping family communication in their everyday lives, and deliberative acts of speaking or remaining silent were one way in which young people exercised care for themselves and others.

Significance of Results: This study extends research on communication within families when a parent has a life-limiting illness and suggests that supporting young people’s agency in determining how they receive information may be more beneficial than promoting open communication between family members.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 3, 2017
Journal Palliative and Supportive Care
Print ISSN 1478-9515
Electronic ISSN 1478-9523
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Turner, N. (2017). Young people's perspectives on open communication between family members when a parent is dying. Palliative and Supportive Care, doi:10.1017/S1478951517000578
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S1478951517000578
Keywords Young people, Communication, Parental illness, Dying
Publisher URL https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/palliative-and-supportive-care/article/young-peoples-perspectives-on-open-communication-between-family-members-when-a-parent-is-dying/7B20AAF166FB6739CD2BBEDED5075311
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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