JOURNAL ARTICLE

Interacting with relatives in intensive care unit. Nurses' perceptions of a challenging task

Anne Sophie Agård, Helle Terkildsen Maindal
Nursing in Critical Care 2009, 14 (5): 264-72
19706077

AIMS: To describe how Danish intensive care unit (ICU)-nurses perceive personal knowledge and skills (self-efficacy) and outcome expectations to interacting with relatives. Moreover, to explore relationships between self-efficacy and outcome expectations and the nurses' attitude towards involving relatives in care-related tasks and allowing relatives to be with the patient during critical situations.

BACKGROUND: Interacting with relatives can be a challenging task, and nurses play a leading role in integrating relatives in ICU. Little is known about how ICU-nurses cope with this part of nursing

DESIGN: Cross-sectional

METHOD: Sixty-eight ICU-nurses responded to a self-administered questionnaire based on Bandura's self-efficacy theory adjusted to critical care.

RESULTS: The nurses' perceptions of personal knowledge, skills and expectations to the outcome of interacting with relatives were positive. There were disparities in nurses' level of agreement on when to involve relatives in caring activities. Generally, the nurses did not support the presence of relatives in critical situations. Nurses' outcome expectations were correlated to their attitude towards involving relatives in caring activities. No other statistically significant correlations were found between general attitude, knowledge, skills, and attitude of nurses towards involving relatives in caring activities or allowing them to be with the patient at cardiac arrest or acute intubation.

CONCLUSION: The nurses' outcome expectations and self-efficacy in terms of knowledge and skills interacting with relatives were high. There was considerable variation in the nurses' agreement on when to involve relatives in caring activities or allowing them to be with the patient in critical situations. The self-efficacy theory was not supported as a result of lack of correlation between nurses' self-efficacy and outcome expectations and their attitude towards involving relatives in ICU.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The study provides important knowledge to clinicians, educators and managers on how to educate and supervise ICU-nurses to support their efforts to interact proficiently with relatives.

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