UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of a nursing intervention to meet the needs of family members of critically ill patients Mackay, Martha


Critical illness is a devastating experience, with the patient's survival often being uncertain. This threatens the supportive function of the family, which may induce a state of crisis in the family. Critical care nurses have long recognized the acute needs of families of critically ill patients, and have wanted to intervene effectively. A lack of rigorously tested interventions has prevented this from becoming a consistent reality in critical care nursing practice. Past research has clearly identified consistent needs of families of critically ill patients. This study evaluated a research-based nursing intervention to help families of critically ill patients, using a post-test only, non-equivalent groups design. A nursing procedure and protocol, and written information about the critical care unit and local services were the elements of the intervention. Demographic data were collected, and need satisfaction was measured using a modified version of the Critical Care Family Needs Inventory (CCFNI). The findings were that need satisfaction did not change from Group 1 (usual care) to Group 2 (experimental care). This may have been due to design limitations, such as failure to measure certain variables which can affect need satisfaction, leading to inability to control for their effect. Nevertheless, need satisfaction was high in both groups. It is concluded that the intervention promotes satisfaction of important needs amongst family members of critically ill patients, and it is recommended for implementation in like units, with like family members. Consideration must be given to adequate education and workload management when implementing such an intervention. Nurse researchers are encouraged to further examine psychometric properties of the modified CCFNI, to conduct trials with adequate sample sizes, and to collaborate with medical colleagues to design and test means to meet the need of the family to talk to the physician once a day.

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