Caring and daily life: Occupational experiences of women living with sons diagnosed with schizophrenia

Lisa Chaffey, Ellie Fossey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Occupational therapists need to appreciate carers' lived experiences to build and maintain effective partnerships with them in mental health practice. This study explored the caring experiences of six women living with sons diagnosed with schizophrenia from an occupational perspective, using the Occupational Performance History Interview-II. Thematic analysis identified five themes: 'It's a whole new thing' described carers' initial confusion and learning; 'the need to provide support' concerned the tasks involved in caring; and 'this situation just evolved' was about their adaptation to caring. 'Much of our life is focused on him' was about these women's home lives, while 'don't get too optimistic' concerned emotional aspects of their experiences. These themes illustrate how the women's life trajectories and occupations were altered to incorporate caring. The pursuit of their interests, in addition to care-related occupations, appears important for carers to sustain satisfying lives. Occupational history interviewing provided a useful method for learning about the life transitions and occupational issues faced by people in caring roles. Its use by occupational therapists in building partnerships with immediate family and friends of persons experiencing mental illness is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregiving
  • Mental illness
  • Occupational Performance History Interview-II
  • Occupations

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