Re-visiting the ICU Experiences of follow-up visits to an ICU after discharge: a qualitative study

Asa Engström, Staffan Andersson, Siv Söderberg
Intensive & Critical Care Nursing: the Official Journal of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses 2008, 24 (4): 233-41
The aim of this study is to describe how people who have been critically ill, and their close relatives experience a post-discharge, follow-up visit to the intensive care unit (ICU) that provided the care. There is a lack of studies from such a standpoint. The study design is qualitative. A total of 18 adults participated; nine had been critically ill and nine were close relatives, all made a post-discharge follow-up visit to an ICU in the northern part of Sweden. The study data was collected through personal interviews, conducted after the follow-up visit, using a narrative approach. The data were then subjected to qualitative thematic content analysis which resulted in four themes: receiving strength from returning together; making sense of the critical-illness experience; feeling grateful to have survived and the possibility of improving the care. People who had been critically ill and close relatives felt that returning together was valuable. Meeting the staff, with whom participants felt they had developed a relationship, made it possible for them to express their gratitude for the treatment and nursing care received, and to suggest improvements. The interviews revealed that the follow-up visit was seen as an important way of learning what had happened and why during the period of critical illness.

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