The experiences of patients who had major abdominal surgery regarding the active involvement of family caregivers at the surgery ward: An interpretative phenomenological analysis
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Background: Family Centered Care (FCC) contributes to a higher quality of care for the patient. However, family involvement (FI) in patients care may also influence the needs and autonomy of the patient. A university hospital in the Netherlands developed a family involvement program (FIP) to actively involve family caregivers (FCs) in patients care after major abdominal surgery. This project shows positive quantitative outcomes; however, it does not give insight into patients’ experiences regarding FI. Understanding these experiences is essential for further development of FI within hospitals. Aim: To explore the experiences of patients who received the FIP regarding the active involvement of FCs after major abdominal surgery during admission at the surgery ward. Method: An interpretative phenomenological (IPA) was performed. 13 face to face in-depth interviews were undertaken with participants who were recruited from the university hospital where the FIP was performed. Data was analyzed by two independent researchers and discussed with the research team. Results: From the 13 patients, 12 underwent surgery because of cancer. All patients were cared for by their partners. Five main themes played a key role in the FIP: (1) sense of being home, (2) strengthening existing relationships (3) contribution to recovery, (4) feeling safe and confident and (5) expectations and obstacles within the relationship between patient, FC and the healthcare professionals. Conclusion: FI is beneficial for patients during hospital admission. Patients feel more at home, safe, confident and relaxed. FIP strengthens the relationship with their FC. However, clear guidance about what is expected from the patient within the FIP is necessary. Recommendations : The FIP need to be well coordinated and the healthcare team has to create clear guidance about what participating means for the patient, the FC and the healthcare professional.