Resilience factors in families living with a member with a mental disorder

Jonker, Liezl (2006-12)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


An immense burden is placed on families caring for a member with a mental disorder as a result of deinstitutionalisation in South Africa. The aim of present study was to identify resilience factors in families living with and caring for a member with a mental disorder. The focus was on families living in an underprivileged, semi-rural area; caring for a patient using the state-sponsored psychiatric services. Using a cross-sectional survey design, interviews were conducted with 34 family representatives. During these interviews, qualitative and quantitative data was gathered by means of a biographical questionnaire, an open-ended question and set of self-report questionnaires. The results yielded from the data analysis are in keeping with findings from international and South African family resilience studies. After content analysis of the qualitative data, three themes related to resilience factors emerged: internal factors within the home, external factors outside of the home and factors related to the member with a mental disorder. The most commonly mentioned resilience factors cited by the family representative were religion and spirituality, characteristics of individual family members (excluding the patient), family characteristics, and social support. Spearman’s correlations and best subsets multiple regression analysis were performed on the data to ascertain which factors are significantly correlated or associated with family adaptation. In both statistical analyses, communication styles of the family unit were the most important. Spearman’s correlations further revealed that in addition to family communication, the ability of the family to work together, and communication between the marital couple had the strongest correlation with adaptation. Passive acceptance of problematic issues in the family has a negative correlation with family adaptation. The two most significant predictor variables of family adaptation are the family’s style of family communication during crises and the family’s use of passive appraisal as a coping style.

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