Tracheostomy in the acute setting: patient experience and information needs

J Crit Care. 2009 Dec;24(4):501-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2008.10.007. Epub 2009 Feb 13.


Purpose: The placement of a tracheostomy tube is a common hospital procedure used to clear secretions or bypass upper airway obstruction. However, little is known about patients' experiences of tracheostomy or the adequacy of the information provided to them.

Methods: This pilot qualitative study used semistructured interviews with 8 patients to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences. They were recruited from and interviewed in a large teaching hospital in the South of England.

Results: Four main themes were identified: physical sensations, understanding, information, and experiences after removal of the tracheostomy tube.

Conclusions: This research suggests that the experience of tracheostomy is a complex mix of physical sensations and emotions. Despite being a relatively routine procedure for clinicians, it can be very distressing to patients both during and after removal. Information needs to be more comprehensive, and it should be tailored to suit individual patient needs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qualitative Research
  • Tracheostomy*