Nursing care of the family before and after a death in the ICU--an exploratory pilot study

Aust Crit Care. 2013 Feb;26(1):23-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2012.01.001. Epub 2012 Feb 5.


This qualitative descriptive study was undertaken in two metropolitan ICUs utilising focus groups to describe the ways in which ICU nurses care for the families of dying patients during and after the death. Participants shared their perspectives on how they care for families, their concerns about care, and detailed the strategies they use to provide timely and person-centred family care. Participants identified that their ICU training was inadequate in equipping them to address the complex care needs of families leading up to and following patient deaths, and they relied on peer mentoring and role-modelling to improve their care. Organisational constraints, practices and pressures impacting on the nurse made 'ideal' family care difficult. They also identified that a lack of access to pastoral care and social work after hours contributed to their concerns about family care. Participants reported that they valued the time nurses spent with families, and the importance of ensuring families spent time with the patient, before and after death.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement
  • Critical Care Nursing*
  • Death*
  • Family Nursing*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Pastoral Care
  • Pilot Projects