Critical care patients' experience of the helmet continuous positive airway pressure

Nurs Crit Care. 2012 Jan-Feb;17(1):36-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-5153.2011.00478.x.


Background: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a common treatment modality for acute respiratory failure (ARF) in critical care. Historically, a tight-fitting mask is used to provide respiratory support. This however is not without risks to the patient. The helmet CPAP is a new product that provides the same treatment with a different method of delivery. There is minimal evidence to date explaining the patient's experience of the new helmet modality.

Aims and objectives: The aim of this research study is to explore critical care patient's experience of helmet CPAP.

Design: A qualitative approach was taken utilizing descriptive phenomenological methodology. In order to obtain rich data, six interviews with cues provided the platform for data generation and collection. A thematic framework was utilized with emergent themes manually analysed using a constant comparative technique to express the experiences or phenomena of a particular event or experiences.

Findings/results: The overall experience was unique to each patient. The patients entrusted the health care team which made the experience more tolerable. Paradoxical themes were experienced during treatment. The themes included entrapment, confusion, helping me breathe, liberation, challenges, apprehension, relief, trust and endurance. The desire to survive the acute illness proved to be a driving factor.

Conclusion: The study has provided an insight into the patient's experience of helmet CPAP in the critical care setting. The findings have provided a basis for policy and guideline development. It will also assist in developing future patient focused care.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / instrumentation*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / psychology
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / nursing*