Date of Award

1-20-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Judith McKay

Second Advisor

Marcia Sweedler

Third Advisor

Sylvia M. Hale

Abstract

In the limited qualitative research about families who have placed a family member in a nursing home, conflict is identified as a significant problem (Lashewicz & Keating, 2009; Lashewicz et al., 2007). Whether it is related to absence of filial responsibility on the part of adult children, (Ganong & Coleman, 2005; Piercy, 1998), adult child ambivalence (Bengtson et al., 2002; Lüscher & Pillemer, 1998), female and male gender caregiving roles (Spitze & Trent, 2006; Dayton-Ingersoll, 2003; Aronson, 1992), differences in levels of commitment on the part of adult children to assist older parents (Silverstein et al., 2008), adult children being overly assertive - exercising undue influence - when caring for an older parent (Lashewicz & Keating, 2009; Hall, 2005; Soden, 2005), family history (Brody, 1998; Merrill, 1997; Leder, 1993; Bedford, 1992; Matthews & Tarler-Rossner, 1988), family size and/or sibling composition (Davey & Szinovacz, 2008; Matthews, 2002; Wolf et al., 1997) or the geographical proximity of adult children to an aging parent (Dillman et al., 2012; Pillemer & Suitor, 2006; Roff et al., 2007; Stern, 1995) situational caregiving factors leading up to, during, and after nursing home placement can be the source of considerable family conflict.

Utilizing modified transcendental phenomenology (Cooper, 2010; Lindseth & Norberg, 2004; Pollio et al., 1997), this research is based on fifteen-structured interviews (Rubin & Rubin, 2012; van den Hoonard, 2012; Bernard & Ryan, 2010; Berg, 2009; Esterberg, 2002) with adult women who live in central and northwestern New Brunswick, Canada who have experienced interpersonal conflict in their family prior to, during, and after placing a family member in a nursing home.

The three questions that guide this study are: How does conflict occur within families who have placed a family member in a nursing home? Utilizing modified transcendental phenomenology, how can we better understand conflict in families who have placed a family member in a nursing home? What kind of conflict resolution practices and social policies can be put into place to assist families should they experience conflict as a result of nursing home placement?

The findings of this study can be explained through the application of developmental theory where sociological factors are said to be significant in connection with family development (Rodgers & White, 1993; Hill, 1964; Duvall, 1957), life span theory where life-span psychology, biology, and sociology facilitates changes in the family unit (Heckhausen, 2010; Bengtson & Allen, 1993; Aldous, 1990), social psychological equity theory where conflict occurs, typically, but not exclusively, in families where there is more than one adult child, because of a perceived existing inequity in caring for an older parent both prior to, during, and after nursing home placement (Dayton-Ingersoll, 2002; Walster et al., 1978; Adams, 1965), intersectionality theory where various dimensions of many categories define the social reality of caregivers (McCall, 2005), and multi-level family conflict theory (Canary & Canary, 2013) where four interconnected levels, ranging from the micro level to the macro level describe family conflict.

Interpersonal family conflict can damage relationships when interpersonal communication breaks down (Katz et al. 2011; Koerner & Fitzpatrick, 2006).

Interpersonal communication is significant as it is "...the process by which people interactively create, sustain, and manage meaning..." (Dainton & Zelley,1994, p. 2). Interpersonal conflict theory argues "... that interpersonal conflict is related to lower levels of relational functioning ..." (Roloff & Chiles, 2011, p. 429). With the application of these six theories, we must then determine what kind of conflict resolution practices and social policies can be put into place to best assist families should they experience conflict in connection with nursing home placement.