The family transition experience when living with childhood neuromuscular disease: A grounded theory study

Veronika Waldboth*, Christine Patch, Romy Mahrer-Imhof, Alison Metcalfe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Neuromuscular diseases are rare conditions that present with progressive muscular weakness. As affected children transition into adulthood, they become more physically dependent on their families for support. There is little evidence on the family transition experience, which this study explored to identify experiences, challenges, and strategies of coping. Design: Informed by family systems theory, a constructivist grounded theory study was conducted (2014–2017). Methods: Data were collected by one-on-one interviews with a purposive sample of affected Swiss individuals and their families from 2015 to 2016. Data analysis used coding, memo writing, theoretical sampling, and constant comparison techniques. Results: The analysis of 31 interviews with 10 affected individuals and 21 family members resulted in an interpretive theory constituted of four categories: (a) living with physical dependence, while striving for independence; (b) balancing proximity; (c) conforming and challenging social standards and expectations; and (d) grieving for loss, while joining forces for life. Conclusion: Family functioning and well-being were threatened by recurring tension from stress, physical and emotional difficulties, strained relationships, and conflict. The families’ strategies of coping and adaptation and their relationships and communication shaped their transition experience. Impact: Families that experience threats to their well-being and functioning would benefit from: needs assessment and monitoring; planning of appropriate family interventions; support of family relationships and communication, effective coping, and mastery; and positive adaptation to change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1921-1933
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • adolescent
  • family
  • genetics
  • grounded theory
  • neuromuscular diseases
  • nursing
  • transitional care


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