Structured Life Review and its Impact on Family Interactions
Dahley, Laurie K.
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Communication has been deemed by Nelson, Schrader, and Eidsness (2009) as critical to the ability to provide quality end-of-life care. While past research has focused on communication between healthcare professionals and the patient/family unit, this qualitative study explored the impact of a life review technique on family interactions. Structured life review interviews were conducted with fifteen residents of a skilled nursing facility in the presence of family members. Follow-up interviews were conducted with elders and family members to determine the impact of the intervention on family interactions as well as individual effects. Using qualitative methodology, open-ended questions were employed to enhance our understanding of the participant's experience through the life review process. Themes that emerged included: affirmation of prior knowledge, living legacy, new information, opened communication, enhanced understanding, affirmation of the older adult, testimonials, and bridging distant family relationships. Two articles for publication were produced as a result of the project. The first article defined and reviewed all of the themes identified in the study. Along with the discussion of themes, its potential as a tool to improve communication and family interactions was explored. The second article focused on the psychological impact of the life review process experienced by the individual as well as the family system. In addition, the implications for social work practice with older adults were examined and recommendations for implementation were reviewed. Possible direction of future research was also discussed.