Family experience with intensive care unit care: association of self-reported family conferences and family satisfaction

J Crit Care. 2014 Aug;29(4):641-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.03.012. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Critical Care / psychology*
  • Decision Making*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care