In their absence; intensive care nurses' experiences of communicating and supporting relatives from a distance.

Conte H, Dorell Å, Wedin E, Eckerblad J

BMC Nurs 22 (1) 421 [2023-11-10; online 2023-11-10]

Having a critically ill family member in the intensive care unit (ICU) is a challenging situation and ICU nurses play an important part in supporting relatives to make sense of the situation. Strict visiting policies inhibited the family's presence in ICUs during 2020-22, and the communication between nurses and families changed drastically. Information and support are at the core of the ICU nurses' profession, and the pandemic backdrop created a split between what intensive care nurses have a professional responsibility to perform and which actions were possible. To get a fuller picture, the aim of this study was: To describe intensive care nurses' experiences of communicating and supporting relatives from a distance while working during visiting restrictions. A qualitative descriptive design using individual and semi-structured interviews with 16 ICU nurses. The interviews were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. This study followed the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ). Due to the visiting restriction during the COVID-19 pandemic, ICU nurses found themselves in a situation where proximity and time to develop an interpersonal connection with relatives disappeared overnight. The nurses' experiences of communicating with and supporting families is described in three themes: "Finding ways to create order out of chaos"; "Guiding the relatives to a fuller picture of the situation"; and "Feeling insufficient in their support". Visiting restrictions in the ICU meant that ICU nurses missed vital information about their patients as a person, which might have had a negative effect on personalizing and centring the patient care. But using a combination of digital and audio tools helped nurses to guide the relatives to a clearer picture of the situation as a whole. The support that nurses were able to provide to relatives was often insufficient due to the visiting restriction and as a consequence, they experienced physical and psychological stress.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 37950204

DOI 10.1186/s12912-023-01559-4

Crossref 10.1186/s12912-023-01559-4

pmc: PMC10636861
pii: 10.1186/s12912-023-01559-4

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