When the unreal becomes real: family members' experiences of cardiac arrest

Nurs Crit Care. 2005 Jan-Feb;10(1):15-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1362-1017.2005.00094.x.


The aim of this study was to provide insight into family members' experiences related to cardiac arrest. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 17 family members approximately 5-34 months after the cardiac arrest of a relative. As the focus was on the family members' experiences seen from a holistic perspective, content analysis was chosen for the study. When the event occurred to the patient, family members realized the need for assistance and managed to initiate first actions. When the emergency medical service arrived, family members responded to stress and forgot their own needs. When the staff took over at the hospital, family members not only received sympathy but also encountered professional distancing. Because their experiences vary widely, the encounter has to be developed through a comforting, sympathetic and respectful dialogue in consideration for individuals' preferences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / psychology
  • Empathy
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • First Aid / psychology*
  • Heart Arrest / prevention & control*
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Psychological Distance
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Visitors to Patients / psychology