Conditions and strategies to meet the challenges imposed by the COVID-19-related visiting restrictions in the intensive care unit: A Scandinavian cross-sectional study

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  • Hanne Irene Jensen, Anæstesiologisk Afdeling, Sygehus Lillebælt, Vejle, Institut for Regional Sundhedstjenesteforskning, Denmark
  • Eva Åkerman, Department of Perioperative Medicine and Intensive Care, Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Sweden
  • Ranveig Lind, Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway, Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway, Norway
  • Hanne Birgit Alfheim, Faculty of Health, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway, Norway
  • Gro Frivold, Department of Health and Nursing Science, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway, Norway
  • Isabell Fridh, Department of Anaesthesiology, Surgery, and Intensive Care, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, Faculty of Caring Science, Work Life and Social Welfare, University of Borås, Sweden, Sweden
  • Anne Sophie Ågård
To examine conditions and strategies to meet the challenges imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related visiting restrictions in Scandinavian intensive care units.

Research methodology/design
A cross-sectional survey.

Adult intensive care units in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Main outcome measures
Likert scale responses and free-text comments within six areas: capacity and staffing, visiting policies and access to the unit, information and conferences with relatives, written information, children as relatives and follow-up initiatives.

The overall response rate was 53% (74/140 participating units). All intensive care units had planned for capacity extensions; the majority ranging between 11 and 30 extra beds. From March–June 2020, units had a mean maximum of 9.4 COVID-19 patients simultaneously. Allowing restricted visiting was more common in Denmark (52%) and Norway (61%) than in Sweden where visiting was mostly denied except for dying patients (68%), due to a particular increased number of COVID-19 patients. The restrictions forced nurses to compromise on their usual standards of family care. Numerous models for maintaining contact between relatives and patients were described.

Visitation restrictions compromised the quality of family care and entailed dilemmas for healthcare professionals but also spurred initiatives to developing new ways of providing family care.
Original languageDanish
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Number of pages6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2021

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