Purpose: A family conference is recommended as a best practice to improve communication in the intensive care unit (ICU), but this can be challenging given the setting. This study examined whether family members who reported that a family conference occurred had higher satisfaction than those who did not report that a conference was held.
Materials and methods: The study used a retrospective data analysis of family satisfaction based on family member's responses to a questionnaire. Families of all the patients admitted to ICUs of 2 quaternary hospitals in an integrated health system were surveyed.
Results: The families of 457 patients who matched the inclusion and exclusion criteria were surveyed with a 55.6% response rate. Family satisfaction with decision making was significantly higher (83.6 vs 78.2, P=.0211) for families who reported that family conferences occurred. No significant difference in the satisfaction with care and overall satisfaction scores was found (84.2 vs 80.0, P=.10). Patients whose families reported a family conference were older and had higher mortality.
Conclusion: This study confirms that families who report attending family conferences are more satisfied with decision making in the ICU. This study highlights the need to increase communication in ICUs.
Keywords: End-of-life care; Family communication; Family conference; Family satisfaction; Medical decision making.
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