The needs of the families of patients with a chronic illness who are in the Critical Care Unit

Geraldine O'Gara, ann-marie doyle, theresa wiseman, Natalie Pattison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To qualitatively explore needs of family members of patients with chronic illness in the critical care unit, and develop content for a family-centred support toolkit.

Two focus groups and one face-to-face interview were conducted involving nine family members. These were digitally-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis to explore family need and establish support toolkit format and content.

Setting and participants:
Adult (≥18 years) family members of adult patients with chronic illness, admitted to critical care in the preceding 9 months across two specialist hospitals in London, UK.

Themes include: importance of communication, need for support, trauma of chronic illness, and having to provide ‘Do-it-Yourself’ care. The immense responsibility on families to provide care throughout illness trajectory is highlighted. Understandable information is an essential foundation for a family support toolkit.

Family members often view a critical care episode broadly from diagnosis through to recovery/rehabilitation. Basic communication training skills in the critical care unit should be ensured, alongside co-ordination of simple solutions. The potential traumatic impact on families should be highlighted early within the pathway, and positive aspects of this used to harness essential family support. A simple and coordinated approach to a tool-kit is preferred.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


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