Revealing the Strengths of Latino Parent Caregivers Using a Transcultural Strength Assessment Tool

Article excerpt


Primary parent caregivers of children with intensive, ongoing health needs are faced with multi-faceted responsibilities. They often feel overwhelmed by stress and out of balance. The dual purposes of this study were to explore the strengths of Latino parent caregivers of children with intensive technology dependent health care needs, and assess the credibility of the Haley Transcultural Strength Assessment interview guide with this population. Findings reveal 12 sources of strength that are discussed using the Integrative Harmony Model. This study also enhanced credibility of the Transcultural interview guide.

Key Words: coping, interview guide, medically fragile child, parent caregiver, strength

The Latino population is the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., projected to constitute 25% of the country's population by 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), and Latino children younger than 18 years of age represent the most rapidly growing and the largest minority child population in the nation (Morse, 2003). According to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, 13% of all children have a chronic condition resulting in special health care needs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). Many of these children are medically fragile (MFC) and technologydependent. They have long-term, intensive health care needs, which require a medical device to compensate for loss of a vital body function and necessitate ongoing care by a nurse or trained lay caregiver to avert death or further disability. This study reveals strengths of parent caregivers for an increasing population of Latino children who are medically fragile.

Todays health care environment promotes the shift toward home care. Latino parents living with their technology de[>endent child often shoulder the diverse responsibilities of ong term care for their child while attempting to manage all other facets of their lives. Because these responsibilities impose multiple stressors, parent caregivers often feel overwhelmed (Carnevale, Alexander, Davis, Rennick, & Troini, 2006; Ratliffe, Harrigan, Haley, Tse, & Olson, 2002). Caring for a child with a disability can adversely affect health and well-being of parent caregivers (Raina et al., 2005) so it is crucial to balance their stressors with their individual strengths. It is imperative that knowledge of their strengths be gained to bring parents toward a state of harmony and balance. Each human being has embedded strengths to draw upon. Strength is defined as "energy one may replenish via both internal and external resources, which one taps into to bring forth a sense of connectedness with the present situation" (Haley & Harrigan, 2004, p. 1).

The dual purposes of this study were to (1) explore the strengths used by Latino parent caregivers of children who are dependent on life sustaining technology, and (2) assess the credibility of the Haley Transcultural Strength Assessment (HTSA) interview guide for primary parent caregivers within the Latino population. Understanding the strengths of these caregivers provides meaningful information which can serve as the basis for structuring and directing nursing and other health care provider interventions.

Theoretical Foundation

When a child with intensive, ongoing health needs enters a parents life, the parent's lifestyle, quality of life, and well-being are suddenly challenged (Ratliffe et al., 2002). Depending on the parents perspective of strengths and stressors, a state of harmony and balance may be jeopardized. Harmony is defined as, "being open to the present moment with a sense of presence that is all-pervasive and without limitations. Harmony is the absence of resistance to what is. This leads to discovering meaning in everything" (Haley & Ratliffe, 2006, p. 57). In addition, harmony "is the perspective from which each person views the world that influences whether they will emerge into a position of empowerment (energy/connectedness) or victimization (judgment/dualism)" (Ratliffe & Haley, 2002, p. …