Purpose: The purpose of this study was to understand the coping process that family caregivers experience during the process of care, to grasp coping behaviors used to solve problems and, finally, to develop a substantive theory by analyzing the coping process. Method: The methodology of collecting and analyzing data used in this study followed the ground theory of Strauss and Corbin(1998). Data were collected through in-depth interviews with open-ended and descriptive questions about the subjects' coping experiences, which were audio-taped and transcribed. The survey was conducted between February 2000 and February 2001. The subjects of this study were 17 women. Result: The result of the study is as follows. The coping process of family caregivers while taking care of the demented elderly was found to have six stages: problem recognition: undertaking care: struggling: mental control: burden mediation; and acceptance. These stages proceed with reciprocal action and in cycle. Conclusion: The result of this study is helpful for developing effective and individual nursing strategies suitable for each coping stage. It is necessary to develop an assessment tool that can judge caregivers' coping stage based on the result of this study. Moreover, we need continuous study to practice nursing mediation and to analyze the change about nursing effect and family members' adaptation.
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