Maintaining Unity - Relatives in older patient's fast-track treatment programmes. A Grounded theory study

Connie Bøttcher Berthelsen, Tove Lindhardt, Kirsten Frederiksen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aim. To generate a substantive grounded theory of relatives’ pattern of behaviour in older patients’ fast-track treatment programmes during total hip or knee replacement.

Background. Fast-track treatment programmes are designed to make total hip and knee replacements more efficient through recovery improvements. The
support of relatives during older patients’ trajectory is important. However,
knowledge is needed on the relatives’ pattern of behaviour to strengthen their
involvement in fast-track treatment programmes.

Design. We used a Glaserian grounded theory approach based on a systematic
generation of theory from data to explain the latent pattern of behaviour of

Methods. Data were collected from 2010–2011 in orthopaedic wards at two Danish university hospitals and consisted of 14 non-participant observations, 14
postobservational interviews and five interviews. Seven relatives of patients over
70 years of age participated. The constant comparative method was the guiding
principle for simultaneous data collection, data analysis and coding, while
theoretically sampling and writing memos.

Findings. Maintaining Unity emerged as the relatives’ pattern of behaviour through which they resolved their main concern: preventing the patients from feeling alone. The relatives resolved their main concern through three interchangeable behavioural modes: Protecting Mode, by providing loving and respectful support; Substituting Mode, with practical and cognitive support; and an Adapting Mode, by trying to fit in with the patients’ and health professionals’ requirements.

Conclusion. The substantive theory of Maintaining Unity offers knowledge of
relatives’ strong desire to provide compassionate and loving support for the older
patients during fast-track treatment programmes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2746-2756
Publication statusPublished - 1. Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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