Aim of the study: The aim of this study is to discuss what methodological problems can be met in family research with one family member as an interviewee speaking on behalf of the whole family and, vice versa, what is the meaning of having multiple family members or the whole family unit as informants.
Background: Family nursing research is part of multidisciplinary research with families. It is a basis for family nursing and contributes to research, especially from the perspective of family welfare and its promotion. Family nursing research generates knowledge concerning families' and family members' wellbeing and experiences and expectations of nursing and health care.
Methods: The examination of methodological problems while pursuing family research is based on two studies conducted in Finland. Findings: Quantitative methods add to the general knowledge of families. Qualitative methods are well suited to the study of family experiences. Family interviews performed for research purposes differ from interviews aiming at caring for families. They aim at obtaining knowledge of families on a general level so as to improve family nursing. Family research has to be looked at as a whole. It faces many challenges such as the definition of the family, gaining access, methods of data collection and data management.
Conclusions: A family is a complex system and research with families need flexible, sensitive and practical methods. Family research should also aim at developing new methods for data collection and analysis.