Nursing Ethics;Volume: 26, issue: 1, 2019
Background: Young next of kin to patients with mental health problems are faced with many challenges. It is important to focus on the special needs of children and adolescents as next of kin to ensure their welfare and prevent harm. Research questions: We aimed to investigate young next of kin’s need for information and involvement, to examine the ways they cope with situations involving coercion related to the treatment of their relative, and to identify ethical challenges. Research design: We conducted a qualitative study based on semi-structured, individual interviews. Participants and research context: Seven young next of kin aged 14–22 years participated in the study. The informants were recruited from a regional hospital trust in Norway. Ethical considerations: The study was approved by the National Data Protection Official for Research and based upon informed consent and confidentiality. Findings: The adolescents wanted more information and described a need for increased interaction with their sick relative at the hospital. They struggled to keep their relationship with their relative intact, and they described communication problems in the family. Coercive treatment was perceived in a negative way. Discussion: The study finds that there are ethical challenges at stake for young next of kin and their families other than those that are often emphasized by traditional healthcare, which often focuses on the individual patient’s rights. These challenges are related to the young next of kin’s needs for interconnectedness and for the preservation of relationships as well as challenges related to family communication and the need for information. Conclusion: The study finds a need for more family-oriented perspectives in both mental healthcare practices and healthcare ethics.
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