The meaning of personal diaries to children and families in the paediatric intensive care unit: A qualitative study

Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2018 Apr;45:25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.iccn.2017.10.001. Epub 2017 Nov 26.


Objective: To explore children's' and families' experiences of using intensive care diaries after discharge and the role of diaries in the process of recovering from a stay in the paediatric intensive care unit.

Design and setting: Qualitative, exploratory design. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with five children and their families, conducted four to six months after discharge from the intensive care unit. Inclusion criteria were children and their families, with a stay for more than three days who had a diary written for them. Data were analysed using thematic analysis FINDINGS: Three main themes emerged: (i) value to the entire family, (ii) creating memories, (iii) the importance of pictures.

Conclusion: Diaries were used after discharge as a support for both children and families and played a role in making the paediatric intensive care experience meaningful by providing explanations and coherence. The findings suggest that a diary can serve as a catalyst for the coping process of the family unit. Findings also confirm how the children's memories are characterised by a sense of unreality. The diary could thus help fill in some of the missing picture to support the children in understanding their story.

Keywords: Aftercare; Child psychology; Children’s experiences; Critical care; Diaries; Follow-up; Paediatric intensive care; Parent’s experiences; Recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / organization & administration
  • Male
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Writing / standards*