Predictors of clinicians' underuse of daily sedation interruption and sedation scales

J Crit Care. 2017 Apr;38:182-189. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2016.07.021. Epub 2016 Aug 11.


Purpose: The purpose of the study is to identify predictors of underuse of sedation scales and daily sedation interruption (DSI).

Methods: We surveyed all physicians and seven nurses in every Belgian intensive care unit (ICU), addressing practices and perceptions on guideline recommendations. Underuse was defined for sedation scales as use less than 3× per day and for DSI as never using it. Classification trees and logistic regressions identified predictors of underuse.

Results: Underuse of sedation scales and DSI was found for 16.6% and 32.5% of clinicians, respectively. Strongest predictors of underuse of sedation scales were agreeing that using them daily takes much time and being a physician (rather than a nurse). Further predictors were confidence in their ability to measure sedation levels without using scales, for physicians, and nurse/ICU bed ratios less than 1.98, for nurses. The strongest predictor of underuse of DSI among physicians was the perception that DSI impairs patients' comfort. Among nurses, lack of familiarity with DSI, region, and agreeing DSI should only be performed upon medical orders best predicted underuse.

Conclusions: Workload considerations hamper utilization of sedation scales. Poor familiarity, for nurses, and negative perception of impact on patients' comfort, for physicians, both reduce DSI utilization. Targeting these obstacles is essential while designing quality improvement strategies to minimize sedative use.

Keywords: Barriers; Daily sedation interruption; Intensive care unit; Protocols; Quality improvement; Sedation scales.

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Conscious Sedation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Critical Care
  • Decision Trees*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / supply & distribution*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses'*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives