An interpretive phenomenological study of Chinese mothers' experiences of constant vigilance in caring for a hospitalized sick child

Regina Lai Tong Lee, Vicky W.K. Lau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: To examine Chinese mothers' experience of caring for their hospitalized sick child. Background: Engaging the mother in providing care for a hospitalized sick child is considered one of the key elements for high-quality care in advanced paediatric nursing. There is evidence that a mother's belief in her capacity to manage stressful situations could improve the nurse-parent relationship because they might play an important role in protecting mothers against heightened stress during crisis situation. Design: An interpretive phenomenological approach involving semi-structured interview and thematic analysis was used. Method: Fifteen interviews were conducted in Hong Kong, China from April 2009-January 2010, with 15 mothers caring for their hospitalized sick children with acute injury or illness. Crist and Tanner's circular process of hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology was chosen to guide the data analysis. Findings: The prevailing concept identified through analysis was the 'constant vigilance' that mothers developed. Interpretation of data resulted in the identification of four key themes: 'being sensitive to others', 'providing helping hands', 'monitoring health conditions', and 'maintaining dialogues'. The findings highlight Chinese mothers' desire for participation in caring for their hospitalized child, their unexpressed needs for communication, and concern about being uncared by the busy health professionals, which affect their care for the child's health outcomes. Conclusion: The findings facilitate the development of family-centred care focuses on partnership of care between the nurse and family to enhance the Chinese family's active and participatory role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1808-1818
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • Chinese mothers
  • Family-centred care
  • General paediatric
  • Hospitalized sick child
  • Interpretive phenomenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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