Family participation in care to the critically ill: opinions of families and staff

Intensive Care Med. 2003 Sep;29(9):1498-504. doi: 10.1007/s00134-003-1904-y. Epub 2003 Jul 10.


Background: Allowing family members to participate in the care of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) may improve the quality of their experience. No previous study has investigated opinions about family participation in ICUs.

Methods: Prospective multicenter survey in 78 ICUs (1,184 beds) in France involving 2,754 ICU caregivers and 544 family members of 357 consecutive patients. We determined opinions and experience about family participation in care; comprehension (of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment) and satisfaction (Critical Care Family Needs Inventory) scores to assess the effectiveness of information to families and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression score for family members.

Results: Among caregivers 88.2% felt that participation in care should be offered to families. Only 33.4% of family members wanted to participate in care. Independent predictors of this desire fell into three groups: patient-related (SAPS II at ICU admission, OR 0.984); ICU stay length, OR 1.021), family-related (family member age, OR 0.97/year); family not of European descent, OR 0.294); previous ICU experience in the family, OR 1.59), and those related to emotional burden and effectiveness of information provided to family members (symptoms of depression in family members, OR 1.58); more time wanted for information, OR 1.06).

Conclusions: Most ICU caregivers are willing to invite family members to participate in patient care, but most family members would decline.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Education / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Prospective Studies