Background: We previously noted that the families of patients dying in the ICU reported higher satisfaction with their ICU experience than the families of survivors. However, the reasons for this finding were unclear. In the current study, we sought to confirm these findings and identify specific aspects of care that were rated more highly by the family members of patients dying in the ICU compared to family members of ICU survivors.
Methods: A total of 539 family members with a patient in the ICU were surveyed. Family satisfaction was measured using the 24-item family satisfaction in the ICU questionnaire. Ordinal logistic regression identified which components of family satisfaction were associated with the patient's outcome (ie, whether the patient lived or died).
Results: A total of 51% of respondents had a loved one die in the ICU. Overall, the families of patients dying in the ICU were more satisfied with their ICU experience than were families of ICU survivors, and the largest differences were noted for care aspects directly affecting family members. Significant differences were found for inclusion in decision making, communication, emotional support, respect and compassion shown to family, and consideration of family needs (p<0.01).
Conclusions: The families of patients dying in the ICU were more satisfied with their ICU experience than were the families of ICU survivors. The reasons for this difference were higher ratings on family-centered aspects of care. These findings suggest that efforts to improve the support of ICU family members should focus not only on the families of dying patients but also on the families of patients who survive their ICU stay.