A grounded theory approach to explore the experience of involuntary childlessness in couples with infertility
Taylor L. Grube, PhD, RN
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- Upsilon Alpha
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Couples who experience involuntary childlessness as a result of infertility are challenged to manage the biological, sociological, and psychological implications of the situation. Furthermore, they are confronted with a variety of options regarding infertility management and resolution of involuntary childlessness. Nurses play a key role in supporting couples as they manage infertility and involuntary childlessness. Since infertility and subsequent involuntary childlessness is a couple’s experience, nursing care should aim to meet the needs of both partners. However, there is a lack of evidence to suggest how couples experience and manage this phenomenon. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe and explain the basic social process used by couples with infertility experiencing involuntary childlessness. The grounded theory approach of Strauss and Corbin was used to guide this study. Data were collected from 13 couples who experienced involuntary childlessness despite trying to conceive for at least one year using semi-structured Zoom© interviews. Data analysis revealed the basic social process of Enduring Involuntary Childlessness. The process is comprised of three stages starting with the initial loss of not being able to conceive a biological child. Next, couples enter the emotionally and physically demanding stage of managing. In this stage, they navigate alternative family-planning options, experience recurrent grieving, and cope with loss, stigma, and pressures to conceive. Eventually, the couple redirects life goals and finds contentment in life by taking on their new normal. During this stage, couples begin to define themselves less on their ability to parent and instead, place more emphasis on other aspects of life. In doing so, couples are able to find peace within their lives. This research developed knowledge that nurses can use to guide nursing care of couples with infertility who are experiencing involuntary childlessness. This research supports the notion that infertility and involuntary childlessness is a couple’s experience; and therefore, health care providers should consider the physical and emotional needs of both partners when caring for this population.
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Experience of Infertility
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