Assessment of patients' experience of discomforts during respirator therapy

Crit Care Med. 1989 Oct;17(10):1068-72. doi: 10.1097/00003246-198910000-00021.


Patients (n = 158) who had been respirator-treated and who could remember the treatment were retrospectively (after greater than 2 months) interviewed about their experiences. Of all patients, 47% had felt anxiety and/or fear during the treatment. These feelings were intimately related to the experience of agony/panic (p less than .001) and insecurity (p less than .001). Inability to talk and communicate was found to be the dominating reason (p less than .001) for evoking such feelings and also made it difficult for the patients to sleep and rest (p less than .05); no correlation to pain was found. Difficulties to synchronize with the respirator in connection with suctioning also caused feelings of anxiety/fear (p less than .01), agony/panic (p less than .01), and insecurity (p less than .001). Even as long as 4 yr after respirator treatment, most patients (90%) who remember the treatment still recall the situation as unpleasant and stress-evoking. The isolation due to communication difficulties was a greater problem than direct airway-related nursing care activities. This relationship between communication difficulties and severe emotional reactions should be considered in the nursing care of respirator-treated patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Communication
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Ventilators, Mechanical*