Patient and spouses experiences with transition from intensive care unit to hospital ward - qualitative study

Suzanne Forsyth Herling, Helene Brix, Lise Andersen, Liz Daugaard Jensen, Rie Handesten, Heidi Knudsen, Dorthe Gaby Bové

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE OF STUDY: Transition from the intensive care unit to the hospital ward can be considered as a vulnerable period for patients as nursing care changes hands. How the transition is experienced by the ICU patient and the family is influenced by how it is organised, communicated and executed. The transition may positively or negatively affect patient recovery.AIM: To explore the experiences of intensive care unit patients and their relatives during the transition to hospital ward in order to find ways of supporting them during the transition process.METHODS: Eligible participants were asked for participation from April to September 2016 from a mixed medical and surgical intensive care unit (Level II) at a university hospital. We conducted six semi-structured interviews with former intensive care unit patients and four dyad interviews with patients and spouses. Data were analysed according to the methodology Interpretive Description with the aim to discover associations, relationships and patterns within the phenomenon.RESULTS: Our analysis revealed the following three themes: (1) Taking up the mantel (2) Adjusting to 'being one in the crowd' and (3) Integrated spouses became visitors. It was a change from an environment with high dependence to increasing independence and a shift from attention to loneliness. Focus moved from the bodily functions to basic activities of living. Spouses experienced that their position was reduced from integrated relatives in the intensive care unit to visitors of the hospital ward.CONCLUSIONS: This article shows that it is important to mentally prepare patients and their family for transfer and a gradual withdrawal of intense nursing observation and monitoring. Discharge planning should begin early and involve spouses to a higher extent as they have a major role in the recovery process far beyond hospitalisation.
Original languageDanish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

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