DOI: 10.1177/10497323241226678 ISSN: 1049-7323

Family Member Experiences in Intensive Care Units Care: Insights From a Family Involvement Tool Implementation Trial

Janet Alexanian, Ian Fraser, Orla Smith, Simon Kitto
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Family involvement is widely considered an important part of patient care in the intensive care unit. From professional health care organizations, government, and hospital associations, there has been a cultural shift toward family presence as part of a wider commitment to patient-centered care. At the same time, the meaning and impact of family involvement in the intensive care unit setting remain opaque and under-studied. This study employed an ethnographic approach to better understand family involvement in practice and from the perspective of health care professionals and family members by studying an implementation trial of a family involvement tool in two intensive care units over 2 years. The findings revealed that an expanded and self-defined role for family members as carers in the intensive care unit challenged the current configuration of the nurse patient/family relationship and that family members were aware of these dynamics. While the intensive care unit implementation teams were both motivated to implement a novel way of facilitating family involvement, the processual, organizational, and contextual factors in the intensive care units largely determined the possibilities of its application. This suggests that interventions should address the specific context in which they are employed.

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