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cancer, family nursing, family relations, palliative care



  1. Mollerberg, Marie-Louise RN
  2. Sandgren, Anna RN, PhD
  3. Swahnberg, Katarina RN, PhD
  4. Benzein, Eva RNT, PhD


This study aimed to illuminate aspects of familial interactions when 1 member is in the palliative phase of his/her cancer course. An individual cancer diagnosis influences the entire family, often requiring daily life changes for all members. Current research has examined individual family member perspectives; family system nursing studies are warranted. Narrative family interviews were conducted on 13 families living with cancer. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed according to a hermeneutic method. Analyses revealed the following: Family interaction patterns were adjusted in response to changes in family life, which encompassed 3 different, but interrelated, patterns: (1) power dynamics in the family, (2) the "secret game" in the family, and (3) multifaceted closeness and distance in the family. It is crucial to adopt a family perspective during palliative care to meet each unique family's needs. Health care facilitators should be aware of the complex dynamics and challenges that these families encounter. This will help obtain a greater understanding of factors underlying effective palliative care.