Needs and experiences of intensive care patients' families: a Saudi qualitative study

Abbas Saleh Al-Mutair, Virginia Margaret Plummer, Rosemary Anne Clerehan, Anthony Paul O'Brien

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40 Citations (Scopus)


To identify the perceived needs of Saudi families of patients in Intensive Care in relation to their culture and religion. Background: Admission of a family member to an intensive care unit (ICU) is a deeply distressing and often unexpected life event to the family. Families of critically ill patients have needs that should be acknowledged and met by the ICU team. Literature is virtually silent on the issue of recognizing the ICU family needs in relation to the influence of their cultural values and religious beliefs. Design: A descriptive exploratory qualitative study. Method: Individual, semi-structured interviews of a purposive sample of 12 family members were carried out between November 2011 and February 2012. The closest family members were recruited to participate in the interviews with a mean age of 44?25years in eight mixed medical-surgical ICUs of eight major trauma hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Results: The family needs and experiences are described via six major themes: looking for information, maintaining reassurance, spiritual healing, maintaining close proximity, involvement in care and support not being facilitated. The results indicated that family members sought to access information readily to diminish their anxiety. They also needed to be reassured that the best care was being delivered to their loved one and to feel supported during this critical time. Saudi families have cultural and spiritual healing beliefs and practices including faith in God and that God is the ultimate healer, reading of the Qur an, prayer and charity. These lessen their stress and connect them to hold on to hope. In addition, maintaining proximity to their ill family member was considered of the greatest importance to the families. Conclusion: The study provided an in-depth understanding of the family members experience of having a relative in Intensive Care and focussed on a range of unmet needs, particularly those related to culture and religion. The ICU team need to work collaboratively with family members to improve their experience. Relevance to practice: The recognition of family needs, experiences and situations can enhance the care provided by the critical care team to patients and families
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135 - 144
Number of pages10
JournalNursing in Critical Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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