Resilience in families that have experienced heart-related trauma

Wentworth, Ayesha (2005-12)

Thesis (MA (Dept. of Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The current study was aimed at expanding on and understanding the adaptation and adjustment mechanisms used by families in the wake of heart-related trauma, as a means of providing information that reveals and supports the family's own abilities, capabilities and resilience. The theoretical framework of this study was the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin & Thompson, 1991). The focus of this study is on the existing and new resources (including social support), the situation appraisal (including the family schema) and the problem solving and coping aspects of the family. This focus represents the paradigmatic shift from a pathological view of a family to a salutogenic view. Family resilience factors were collected through the self-report questionnaires and an open ended questionnaire, which were completed by the family member who experienced the heart-related trauma. Results indicated that family time and routines appeared to be a key process for mediating family adaptation, as well as parent-child togetherness and family chores. Affirming communication was identified as a key resilience enhancing factor. Communication that is inflammatory (incendiary communication) was found to have a negative effect on adaptation. Further key processes identified as influencing family adaptation were social support, family hardiness and reframing of problem situations. The identification of key processes that mediate recovery can serve as a valuable guide in the South African context for intervention and prevention, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of families and cardiovascular disease.

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