Objectives: To describe the qualitative findings from a family satisfaction survey to identify and describe the themes that characterize family members' intensive care unit experiences.
Design: As part of a larger mixed-methods study to determine the relationship between organizational culture and family satisfaction in critical care, family members of eligible patients in intensive care units completed a Family Satisfaction Survey (FS-ICU 24), which included three open-ended questions about strengths and weaknesses of the intensive care unit based on the family members' experiences and perspectives. Responses to these questions were coded and analyzed to identify key themes.
Setting: Surveys were administered in 23 intensive care units from across Canada.
Participants: Surveys were completed by family members of patients who were in the intensive care unit for >48 hrs and who had been visited by the family member at least once during their intensive care unit stay.
Measurements and main results: A total of 1381 surveys were distributed and 880 responses were received. Intensive care unit experiences were found to be variable within and among intensive care units. Six themes emerged as central to respondents' satisfaction: quality of staff, overall quality of medical care, compassion and respect shown to the patient and family, communication with doctors, waiting room, and patient room. Within three themes, positive comments were more common than negative comments: quality of the staff (66% vs. 23%), overall quality of medical care provided (33% vs. 2%), and compassion and respect shown to the patient and family (29% vs. 12%). Within the other three themes, positive comments were less common than negative comments: communication with doctors (18% vs. 20%), waiting room (1% vs. 8%), and patient rooms (0.4% vs. 5%).
Conclusions: The study provided improved understanding of why family members are satisfied or dissatisfied with particular elements of the intensive care unit and this knowledge can be used to modify intensive care units to better meet the physical and emotional needs of the families of intensive care unit patients.