Children as next of kin and the General Practitioner

What we do

This was Frøydis Gullbrå`s Ph.D. project “Children as next of kin and the general practitioner: A qualitative study about the general practitioner’s opportunities to help”. Supervisors were Marit Hafting, Tone Smit-Sivertsen og Guri Rørtveit. Frøydis Gullbrå defended her theses at the University of Bergen 30.05.2017. The thesis can be downloaded here:

In this project we are focusing on the general practitioner’s (GP's) role in relation to these children.

Many parents have their first meeting with the healthcare system by their GP, and the doctor often follow-up the patient and family over time. The GP is therefore in a unique position to be a helper for these children. The overall objective of this study is to develop tools for the GP to identify and help these children. The project has five sub-studies:

1 Group interviews of GPs. Participants are encouraged to share stories from clinical encounters with parents having mental illness, substance abuse or severe somatic disease, and to discuss the GP´s role in relation to helping the patients’ children. Article from this sub-study is published in Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, Febr 2014.

2 Individual interviews of parents with mental illness, severe somatic illness or substance abuse. How do they think that the GP can help their children? What needs do they see?

3 Group interviews of children having ill or substance abusing parents. What kind of follow-up and support do they think the GP can give? Where else can they obtain support and help?

4 Web - based survey to all GPs in Norway, where hypotheses from the first three sub-studies are examined.

5 Development of tools and guidelines to help GPs in the follow-up of children as next of kin. This is developed on the basis of the results of the previous four sub-studies.

Part 1-3 form the basis of the PhD project for Frøydis Gullbrå

Updated: 21.09.2018

Project outcomes

  • Children whose parents are suffering from mental health illness, substance abuse, or severe somatic disease are at risk of developing psychosocial problems and different kinds of health complaints. These children are often invisible in the healthcare system.