by Nancyruth Leibold, EdD, RN, PHN, School of Nursing, Minnesota State University

Chronic illness is an important concept for nurses to understand. Understanding the meaning, trajectory, family influence, and impact that a chronic illness has on a family is important for the nurse who helps patients and families dealing with a chronic illness.


                                                                                                                                   wheat from with permission

  (Voki Script:  Welcome to this Web Quest about Familee focused care for Chronic Illness.  My name is Doctor  Nancyruth Leibold in Saint Paul Minnesota, and I am the guide and author for this Web Quest. In a Web Quest,  you explore a concept at your own pace.  Click on the menu  at your left in order to work through this Quest!  I suggest you use the right click and open new tab feature when exploring the web resources.  Happy Questing!)

This Nursing WebQuest focuses on chronic illness and the practice of family focused nursing care.  Developing an understanding of what chronic illness means and how it impacts patients and families is a critical skill for nurses.  The topic of patients and families with chronic illness is explored in this Quest.

Chronic illness is a common condition in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2011) health concerns such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are common causes of chronic illness and death in the United States. The CDC reports that 70% of the deaths in the United States each year are due to chronic illnesses (2011). 

Wu and Green (2000) projected that by 2005, one out of every two adults in the United States will have at least one chronic illness. Anderson (2004) estimated that one in four persons with a chronic illness will have a limitation in an activity of daily living.

What is life like for patients and families with chronic illness?  How is their life impacted?  How do the roles in the family change as a result?  How is their social life influenced?  What are the financial ramifications?  How much does health insurance really cover?  What if the person loses their job and then health insurance?  What are the transportation issues?  How much do all the prescriptions cost?  These are some of the issues that patients and families with chronic illness must address.

Nurses work with multiple patients daily with chronic illness.  Therefore, it is important to have knowledge of chronic illness, chronic illness trajectory, the impact of chronic illness on the patient and family, and coping strategies used by patients and families to deal with chronic illness. 

Enjoy this Nursing WebQuest:  Patients and Families with Chronic Illness!  Next, click on task in the  left menu.




Anderson, G. (2004).  Chronic conditions: making the case for ongoing care. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University.

Centers for Disease Control. (2011).  Chronic illness.  Retrieved from:

Wu, S. Y., & Green, A. (2000).  Projection of chronic illness prevalence and cost inflation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Health.