BACKGROUND: The family perspective on heart failure (HF) has an important role in patients' self-care patterns, adjustment to the disease and quality of life. Little is known about families' experiences of living with HF, particularly in ethnic minority families. This study describes the experiences of Iranian families living with HF as an ethnic minority family in Denmark.
METHODS: In this descriptive qualitative study, we conducted eight face-to-face joint family interviews of Iranian patients with HF and their family members living in Denmark. We used content analysis with an inductive approach for data analysis.
RESULTS: We identified three categories: family daily life, process of independence and family relationships. Families were faced with physical restrictions, emotional distress and social limitations in their daily lives that threatened the patients' independence. Different strategies were used to promote independence. One strategy was normalisation and avoiding the sick role; another strategy was accepting and adjusting themselves to challenges and limitations. The independence process itself had an impact on family relationships. Adjusting well to the new situation strengthened the relationship, while having problems in adjustment strained the relationship within the family.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the process of independence as perceived by families living with HF. It is crucial to both families and healthcare professionals to maintain a balance between providing adequate support and ensuring independence when dealing with patients with HF. Understanding patients' stories and their needs seems to be helpful in gaining this balance.