Comparing Norwegian nurses' and physicians' perceptions of the needs of significant others in intensive care units

Christina Takman, Elisabeth Severinsson
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2005, 14 (5): 621-31

AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To illuminate and compare the perceptions of registered nurses (n = 243) and physicians (n = 29) in medical and surgical ICUs for adults on the needs of significant others.

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have established the necessity for healthcare professionals in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) to identify and meet the needs of critically ill adult patients' significant others.

DESIGN: A survey was conducted and data from the Critical Care Family Needs Inventory were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

RESULTS: The findings revealed four factors: 'attentiveness and assurance', 'taking care of themselves', 'involvement', and 'information and predictability'. Nurses scored higher than physicians on 'attentiveness and assurance'. Nurses with experience of being a patient or a significant other in an ICU placed a higher value on 'involvement' compared with nurses without such experience, while physicians with such experience scored higher on 'information and predictability' compared with those without such experience. Older physicians and those with extensive professional and ICU experience had a low score on 'involvement', but scored higher on 'information and predictability' compared with physicians with less experience. Nurses with extensive ICU and professional experience also scored higher on 'information and predictability' than nurses with less experience. Women placed a higher value on each of the four factors than men.

CONCLUSION: The study revealed variations in ICU professionals' perceptions of significant others' needs.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: There is a need for nurses and physicians to acknowledge that varying perceptions on significant others needs could lead to different ways of conducting themselves in encounters with significant others in ICUs. There is also a risk that the patients' significant others could be forced to adapt themselves to professionals' different and perhaps contradictory perceptions of their needs in ICUs.

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