Impact of adult critical care hospitalization: Perceptions of patients, spouses, children, and nurses

M. G. Titler, M. Z. Cohen, M. J. Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This phenomenologic study describes the effects of adult hospitalization in a critical care setting on the family as perceived by patients, spouses, children in the family, and nurses. Tape-recorded interviews were completed with 12 spouses, 9 patients (2 mothers and 7 fathers), 11 children, and 12 nurses. Responses were analyzed by using systematic thematic content analysis. Themes that emerged with regard to how this event affected the family unit and individuals in the family included (1) lack of communication among family members; (2) protecting children from anxiety-provoking information; (3) overriding threat, exemplified by feelings of vulnerability, uncertainity, intense emotions, and physical illness in children; (4) disruption of normal home routines; (5) changes in relationships; and (6) role conflict. Nurses' perceptions of the impact of this event on parents, spouses, and children demonstrated some incongruences with perceptions of patients and family members. Practice implications from this study include the following nursing actions: (1) eliciting more comprehensive information about relationships among family members and the impact on the family; (2) developing mechanisms to promote communication among family members; (3) making referrals to community resources such as school nurses, counselors, and chaplains; and (4) teaching nurses and parents ways to help children cope with this event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalHeart and Lung: Journal of Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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