Designing for Families as Adaptive Systems: Collaborative Emotional Support and Resilience in the Children’s Hospital


When a child is admitted to the hospital with a critical illness, their family must adapt and manage care and stress. HCI and Computer- Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) technologies have shown the potential for collaborative technologies to support and augment care collaboration between patients and caregivers. However, less is known about the potential for collaborative technologies to augment family caregiving circles experiences, stressors, and adaptation practices, especially during long hospitalization stays. We interviewed 14 parents of children with cancer admitted for extended hospitalizations in this work. We use the Family Adaptive Systems framework from the family therapy fields as a lens to characterize the challenges and practices of families with a hospitalized child. We characterize the four adaptive systems from the theory: Emotion system, Control system, Meaning, and Maintenance system. Then, we focus on the Emotion system, suggesting opportunities for designing future collaborative technology to augment collaborative caregiving and enhance family resilience.

Companion Publication of the 2022 Conference on Computer-Human Interaction - CHI 2022