Family satisfaction with critical care: measurements and messages

Curr Opin Crit Care. 2010 Dec;16(6):623-31. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e32833e9718.


Purpose of review: Family satisfaction in the ICU reflects the extent to which perceived needs and expectations of family members of critically ill patients are met by healthcare professionals. Here, we present recently developed tools to assess family satisfaction, with a special focus on their psychometric properties. Assessing family satisfaction, however, is not of much use if it is not followed by interpretation of the results and, if needed, consecutive measures to improve care of the patients and their families, or improvement in communication and decision-making. Accordingly, this review will outline recent findings in this field. Finally, possible areas of future research are addressed.

Recent findings: To assess family satisfaction in the ICU, several domains deserve attention. They include, among others, care of the patient, counseling and emotional support of family members, information and decision-making. Overall, communication between physicians or nurses and members of the family remains a key topic, and there are many opportunities to improve. They include not only communication style, timing and appropriate wording but also, for example, assessments to see if information was adequately received and also understood. Whether unfulfilled needs of individual members of the family or of the family as a social system result in negative long-term sequels remains an open question.

Summary: Assessing and analyzing family satisfaction in the ICU ultimately will support healthcare professionals in their continuing effort to improve care of critically ill patients and their families.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Counseling / organization & administration
  • Critical Care / organization & administration*
  • Decision Making
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control