The life history of Colice Caulfield Sayer and the effects of Generational loss
The study of the life history of Colice Caulfield Sayer explored the ways in which Colice's experiences changed the lives of her family and what was meaningful to them about these events. The purposes of the study were to provide an understanding of the effects of family experiences, to gain insight into the meaning of family loss and to demonstrate the use of qualitative interviewing to promote a deeper understanding of human behavior. Audiotaped, open-ended qualitative interviews with Colice's children and grandchildren provided individual interpretations of the generational effects of family loss. Through the inclusion of personal notes and poetry, a deeper understanding of the nature of Colice's perception of her experiences was obtained as well. In addition, a historical review of the literature of the early to mid-1900s provided a framework upon which to describe how societal expectations, the psychiatric establishment, and the jurisprudence system contributed to Colice's experiences.
In this study, critical theory, family theory, and the theory of loss were used to guide data collection and analysis using the life history research method. Concepts of critical theory encouraged the inclusion of research participants as partners in planning and confirming the study direction. Family theory provided a varied perspective and a wider lens through which to view the family. And, finally, the theory of loss, which was identified as patterns began to emerge from the data, provided a theoretical perspective of generational family behavior.
Knowledge gained from this study has implications for nursing practice and research. Implications for practice relate to the need to fully appreciate the value of qualitative interviewing when initiating nursing assessments in order to come to a more complete understanding of human emotion and behavior. The second implication for practice relates to the understanding that knowledge of the effects of generational loss can assist nurses in their assessment of how clients may respond in times of stress and illness.
Implications for nursing research pertain to the need to include new research approaches when evaluating potential qualitative methodology. In addition, this study supports the use of historical writings in research in order to understand previous clinical practices and put them in historical perspective.