Family psychosocial well–being in a South African context
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“The family is the building block of society. It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure centre, a place of refuge and rest. It encompasses the whole of society. It fashions our beliefs; it is the preparation for the rest of our life,” Margaret Thatcher (1988). We are all well aware of the important role of family in people’s lives, we know it can affect you, empower you, or break you. Many studies and research has sought to define the role and influence of family in every which way, but truthfully, we can never know enough and we will never know everything. As human beings, we constantly strive for more – more knowledge, more understanding, and more insight. But the family, in essence, is a mystery; a far too complex and unique system that cannot be broken down into simple numbers or words. It is this that inspired me to do this study – although we can never know everything, we can always know more. This study therefore aimed to investigate the psychosocial well-being of a group of families and from the findings obtained, develop a conceptual framework and a model for psychosocial well-being of families from diverse cultures in a South African context. The research method consisted of two stages namely, stage one: a multi-method approach using quantitative and qualitative research for theory generation, and stage two: formulation of a conceptual framework and visual model. The first phase consisted of a quantitative research design with a sample size of 772 participants. The aim of the first phase was to determine the prevalence of psychosocial well-being in families and to identify families who report high, moderate and low levels of psychosocial well-being, using validated psychological instruments. The second aim of the quantitative phase was to propose a measurement model to assess family psychosocial well-being in a South African context. The second phase consisted of a qualitative, explorative research design used to understand and describe aspects that contribute to the psychosocial well-being of families from diverse cultures in a South African context, by analysing the storied (narrative) experiences (N = 23), drawings (N = 14) and family interviews (N = 36) of identified families who reported psychosocial well-being or less thereof, in the first phase of the study (Creswell, 2003). These findings were then utilized to develop a conceptual framework followed and a model for the psychosocial well-being of families in a South African context. The findings from the first, quantitative phase show a rather small group of participants who report high levels of family psychosocial well-being, while the majority falls within the low and moderate ranges, and approximately 64% of the participants are not experiencing optimal psychosocial well-being. The results support a two-factor model of family psychosocial well-being consisting of family functioning and family feelings. Family functioning included family relational patterns, family functioning style and family hardiness while the second factor, family feelings, included family satisfaction and attachment. The findings from the qualitative phase suggest that communication, mutual support, togetherness as a family and spirituality are the most prominent contributing factors, whilst financial difficulties and interpersonal conflicts or arguments are the most prominent hindering factors with regard to family psychosocial well-being in this group of participants. These findings were utilized to develop a conceptual framework and a model for the psychosocial well-being of families from diverse cultures in a South African context that can be used in future research and in the development of programmes to enhance the psychosocial well-being of South African families.
- Humanities