The lived experiences of family members of Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care unit: A phenomenological study

Heart Lung. 2021 Nov-Dec;50(6):926-932. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2021.08.002. Epub 2021 Aug 7.


Introduction: The family members of a patient admitted to a COVID Intensive Care Unit (COVID-ICU) could not communicate with and stay close to their loved one, which resulted in them becoming dependent on hospital staff for remote updates.

Objective: To describe the lived experiences of families with a member admitted to a COVID-ICU.

Methods: A phenomenological study was conducted. The subjects were interviewed with open-ended questions to allow them full freedom of expression. The researchers involved in the analysis immersed themselves in the data, independently reading and rereading the transcripts to gain a sense of the entire dataset.

Results: Fourteen first-degree family members were recruited. Five main themes emerged: fear, detachment, life on standby, family-related loneliness in the COVID-ICU, and an unexpected event.

Conclusions: Knowing the experience of families who have a relative in the COVID-ICU is essential for recognizing and reducing the risk of developing symptoms of post-intensive care syndrome.

Keywords: COVID-19; Detachment; Experience; Family care; Intensive care unit.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Critical Illness
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Professional-Family Relations

Supplementary concepts

  • postintensive care syndrome