REFERENCE: Dockter, B., Black, D. R., Hovell, M. F., Engleberg, D., Amick, T., Neimier, D., Sheets, N. (1988). Families and intensive care nurses: Comparison of perceptions. Patient Education and Counseling, 12, 29-36.

This study compared family members' and nurses' perceptions of families' needs when a relative was hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU). Family members (N = 32) and nurses (N = 23) completed equivalent 44-item questionnaires. Both family members and nurses agreed that the greatest needs of families were in the categories of Preparation/Physical and Anxiety. Disagreement, however, occurred only on one item that represented the Anxiety category; significantly more nurses felt that families were anxious at admission (P < 0.05). Families and nurses seemed satisfied in the Participation/Information and Emotional Support categories, but more disagreements were noted in these areas. More nurses perceived families as not wanting to participate in patient care (P < 0.003), felt that families did not have enough time to visit (P < 0.004), believed that families were comfortable expressing their feelings (P < 0.02) but thought families were uncomfortable asking questions (P < 0.01). It was concluded that families be prepared for the patient's condition and appearance, and for the hospital milieu in order to cope more effectively with excessive stress in time of crisis. Concordance in perceived needs of family members and care providers may lead to greater need satisfaction and it is advocated that both the patient and the family (rather than the patient alone) be the focus of treatment because of the relationship between social support and patient recovery.


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