Family member perspectives on ICU in-person visiting restrictions during the COVID-19 Pandemic: a qualitative study: A qualitative study

Linda Jungestrand, Emma Holm, Louise Rose, Axel Wolf, Mona Ringdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: Family member presence in the intensive care unit is important for patient well-being and recovery. Limitations to visits increase the risk of psychological distress in family members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person visiting restrictions were introduced to prevent the spread of infection. Purpose: To explore the experience of in-person visiting restrictions imposed during the pandemic on family members of patients with COVID-19 admitted to an intensive care unit. Method: Qualitative method with thematic analysis. Individual semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted. Findings: We interviewed 21 family members. The results are presented in one overall theme with two main themes and five sub-themes. The theme ‘Striving for closeness even at a distance describes the experience of being kept at a physical distance when participants needed closeness the most. Even participants who were allowed in-person visits perceived a ‘distance’ due to personal protective equipment or because they could only view the patient from a window. Participants reported that contact with and information about the patient was of utmost importance. Visits were viewed as essential in providing for the patient's wellbeing. Meaningful contact with the ICU team was vital for getting useful information. Phone calls became a lifeline, with digital aids such as video calls used occasionally to overcome the feeling of distance. Conclusion: Visiting restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic made straightforward and comprehensible communication of information from the ICU team more essential to reduce family members’ perceptions of distance and exclusion from the intensive care unit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103347
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Early online date7 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2022

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