Caring for a parent with pulmonary fibrosis in Malta : the lived experiences of daughters in mid-adulthood

Scerri, Danielle, Borg Xuereb, Christian and Scerri, Josianne (2021) Caring for a parent with pulmonary fibrosis in Malta : the lived experiences of daughters in mid-adulthood. Health & Social Care in the Community, ISSN (print) 0966-0410 (Epub Ahead of Print)


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive fibrotic lung disease that is on the rise globally. The disease is associated with significant morbidity and hence poses significant challenges for their informal carers, particularly daughters in mid-adulthood, who struggle with their own personal demands and that of their ill parents. Yet there is a dearth of literature on the experiences of these specific carers. Hence, the purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of daughters caring for a parent with pulmonary fibrosis within a community setting. This was explored using a phenomenological qualitative framework that was conducted between January and April 2017. Semi-structured audio-recorded interviews were conducted with six adult daughters who provided care to a parent having pulmonary fibrosis. Purposive sampling was used to recruit study participants. Transcribed data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three main themes were extracted which communicate the essence of the daughters' lived experiences: "Walking on tiptoes", "Flooded by emotions" and "Shifts in family dynamics." Participants described experiencing the toll of being constantly vigilant for symptoms. They also expressed a range of emotions that included guilt, helplessness and worry related to their care experience. However, these emotional struggles were suppressed in order to present an external facade of strength and control. A shift in roles was also described where the daughters became the informal carers/support for both their ill and well parent, albeit in different ways. Caring for a person with pulmonary fibrosis is an emotional and life changing experience and hence, there is the need for individualised interventions that target the unique perceptions of these informal carers. [Abstract copyright: © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.]

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