Family involvement in the intensive care unit in four Nordic countries

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  • Gro Frivold, Department of Health and Nursing Science, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway, Norway
  • Anne Sophie Ågård
  • 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, Sweden
  • Mariann Fossum, Department of Health and Nursing Science, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway, Norway
  • Hanne Birgit Alfheim, Faculty of Health, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway, Norway
  • Matias Rasi, Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway, Norway
  • 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
Background
Relevance to clinical practice The findings from the study highlighting family involvement, high-quality communication and flexible visiting policy as central aspects of family care may inspire clinicians to identify aspects of everyday family care in their ICUs calling for further improvement.

Aims and objectives
To describe family involvement, communication practices and visiting policies in adult ICUs.

Design
A cross-sectional survey.

Method
A questionnaire consisting of 11 sections was developed, pilot tested and e-mailed to 196 ICUs. The participants were intensive care nurses in adult ICUs in four Nordic countries.

Results
The survey was conducted in October to December 2019. The response rate was 81% (158/196) of the invited ICUs. Most of the units had fewer than 11 beds. Family participation in patient care, including involvement in ward rounds and presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, varied between the countries, whereas most families in all countries were involved in decision-making. Family conferences were generally initiated by staff or family members. Children under 18 did not always receive information directly from the staff, and parents were not advised about how to inform their children. Although most respondents described open visiting, restrictions were also mentioned in free-text comments.

Conclusions
The level of family care in ICUs in the four Nordic countries is generally based on nurses' discretion. Although most Nordic ICUs report having an open or flexible visiting policy, a wide range of potential restrictions still exists. Children and young relatives are not routinely followed up. Family members are included in communication and decision-making, whereas family involvement in daily care, ward rounds and family-witnessed resuscitation seem to be areas with a potential for improvement.
Original languageDanish
JournalNursing in Critical Care
Number of pages10
ISSN1362-1017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2021

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