Needs of Adult Family Members of Intensive Care Unit Patients

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kelley J. Obringer, RN, BSN
Critical Care, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur, IL
Cheryl S. Hilgenberg, EdD, RN, CTN, CNE
School of Nursing, Millikin University, Decatur, IL
Kathy J. Booker, PhD, RN, CNE
College of Professional Studies, Millikin University, Decatur, IL

Learning Objective 1: identify the most important needs reported by family members of ICU patients in a Midwestern hospital.

Learning Objective 2: analyze the need for future research to discover interdisciplinary, culturally competent approaches to meeting the needs of family members.

Background: Family members of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients often experience stress and anxiety because of the high mortality rate of patients in the ICU. Family members are involved with the patient's care, especially since visiting hours often include open policies. Family members' presence in the ICU has been found to positively influence the patient experience. The purpose of this research was to examine current perceptions of needs of adult family members of ICU patients in a midwestern hospital. Examining family needs after publication of clinical practice guidelines (Davidson et al., 2007) will contribute to nursing knowledge by helping to determine effectiveness of guideline implementation. Methods: The Critical Care Family Needs Inventory (Leske, 1991) was distributed to 45 participants in a midwestern, not-for-profit, 22 bed ICU. Results: The majority of the sample was female (66.7%); 36% were spouses and 33% were adult children of ICU patients. The top need category identified by the families was assurance, followed by information, proximity, comfort, and support. The most important need item from the needs category of assurance was "To have questions answered honestly." Conclusions: Healthcare professionals are encouraged to assess family needs and provide evidence-based care appropriately. Assessing family needs while implementing recommendations from the clinical practice guidelines (Davidson et al., 2007) provides guidance for meeting family members' needs. Results of this study have implications for interdisciplinary collaboration and culturally competent care. Assurance may be conveyed in different ways in culturally diverse populations. All members of the health care team must collaborate in identifying strategies to meet family needs in culturally competent ways.