Close relatives of critically ill persons in intensive and critical care : the experiences of close relatives and critical care nurses

Abstract: The aim of the licentiate thesis was to describe close relatives of critically ill persons within intensive and critical care from the perspective of close relatives and of critical care nurses. The data were collected by means of qualitaive research interviews with seven partners of persons who had been critically ill and cared for in an intensive care unit, and with focus groups discussions with 24 critical care nurses. The data were then analysed using a qualitative thematic content analysis.This study shows it was a frightening experience to see the person critically ill in an unknown environment. It was important to be able to be present; nothing else mattered. Showing respect, confirming the integrity and dignity of the ill person were also essential. recieving support from family and friends was important, as were understanding what had happened, obtaining information and the way in which this was given. The uncertainty concerning the outcome of the ill person was hard to cope with. Close relatives wanted to feel hope, even though the prognosis was poor.The presence of close relatives was taken for granted by critical care nurses and ut was frustrating if the ill person did not have any. Information from close relatives made it possible for critical care nurses to create personal care for the critically ill person. Critical care nurses supported clsoe relatives by giving them information, being near and trying to establish good relationships with them.Close relatives were described as an important and demanding part of the critical care nurses' work something that took time and enegy to deal with, and the critical care nurses missed forums for discussions about the care given.The discussion of this study show the importance for close relatives to be near and advocate for the ill person. Feeling that staff care about the ill person and close relatives make close relatives to feel safe. Recieving explanations to understand what as happening is significant.