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Study reveals surprising views on ICU care

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The families of intensive care patients that do not survive are often more satisfied with care provision than the relatives of those that do make it, according to US study findings.

Researchers surveyed 539 families of patients who spent four to eight weeks in ICU, of which half had died.

‘When we began this study, we had assumed that families of dying patients would be less satisfied with their ICU experience,’ the authors said. ‘So, we were initially surprised to find that the opposite was true.’

They found the families of survivors and non-survivors were equally satisfied with the level of treatment provided, but the relations of non-survivors reported better aspects of care relating to emotional support, compassion and willingness to answer questions.

‘The desire for information and emotional support is a common theme among all ICU families, regardless of whether a patient lives or dies,’ the authors said. ‘Clinicians should try to recognise that they may be less likely to provide communication and emotional support to the families of ICU survivors, and they should do what they can to change that.’

Chest (2007) www.chestnet.org

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