Everyday life in families with a child with ADHD and public health nurses’ conceptions of their role


Abstract [en]

ADHD is one of the most common behavioral disorders diagnosed in children. These children have difficulties regarding the regulation of emotions, maintaining attention and impulse control, all of which influence family and social life. The aim of this study was to describe and explore the everyday life of families with a child with ADHD and public health nurses’ role in relation to these families. The parents were contending with- and adapting to the parental role and social network. The family attempted to safeguard a functioning family in managing their everyday life, tuning themselves in on the child’s shifting moods, using strict boundaries and developing special skills. The family fought for acceptance and inclusion when interacting with their social network and professionals. Parents with ADHD and families with non-medicated children reported more problems in family functioning. Characteristics in parents and the child with ADHD, as well as support from the social network and community health services, all influenced family functioning. The PHNs described their role as both a peripheral and collaborating partner, asking for guidelines and multidisciplinary collaboration. The public health nurse is in a unique position to support and supervise these families.
Abstract [en]

Aim: The overall aim of this thesis was to describe and explore everyday life in families with a child with ADHD and public health nurses’ role in relation to these families.

Methods: An explorative and descriptive design with qualitative and quantitative methods was used. In Study I, data was collected with individual interviews with nine parents, and analyzed using phenomenology. In Study II, the data was collected with individual interviews with 17 family members, and analyzed with phenomenography. In Study III, data was collected with a questionnaire responded by 265 parents, and analyzed with statistics. In Study IV, data was collected with group- and individual interviews with 19 public health nurses, and analyzed with phenomenography.

Main findings: The families’ everyday life was influenced by living in unpredictability, though they were striving for predictability. The experience of being a parent was described as contending and adapting every day, like windsurfing in unpredictable waters (I). The family tried to safeguard a functioning family in managing their everyday life and developing special skills, within the family and the society. They fought for acceptance and inclusion in relation to the social network and professionals (II). Parents’ sense of coherence, children’s behavior, support from social networks and community health services had all an impact on family functioning (III). The PHNs described their role as both a peripheral and a collaborating partner and they asked for guidelines and multidisciplinary collaboration (IV).

Conclusions: Everyday life in families with ADHD is both demanding and giving. Acceptance and support from the social network and supervision from the professionals are essential. The public health nurse is in a unique position to support and supervise these families.