Family satisfaction with intensive care unit communication during the COVID-19 pandemic: a prospective multicentre Australian study Family Satisfaction - COVID ICU

Intern Med J. 2022 Nov 8;10.1111/imj.15964. doi: 10.1111/imj.15964. Online ahead of print.


Background: Virtual communication has become common practice during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic because of visitation restrictions.

Aims: The authors aimed to evaluate overall family satisfaction with the intensive care unit (FS-ICU) care involving virtual communication strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Methods: In this prospective multicentre study involving three metropolitan hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, the next of kin (NOK) of all eligible ICU patients between 1 July 2020 and 31 October 2020 were requested to complete an adapted version of the FS-ICU 24-questionnaire. Group comparisons were analysed and calculated for family satisfaction scores: ICU/care (satisfaction with care), FS-ICU/dm (satisfaction with information/decision-making) and FS-ICU/total (overall satisfaction with the ICU). The essential predictors that influence family satisfaction were identified using quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Results: Seventy-three of the 227 patients' NOK who initially agreed completed the FS-ICU questionnaire (response rate 32.2%). The mean FS-ICU/total was 63.9 (standard deviation [SD], 30.8). The mean score for satisfaction with FS-ICU/dm was lower than the FS-ICU/care (62.1 [SD, 30.3) vs 65.4 (SD, 31.4); P < 0.001]. There was no difference in mean FS-ICU/total scores between survivors (n = 65; 89%) and non-survivors (n = 8, 11%). Higher patient Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation III score, female NOK and the patient dying in the ICU were independent predictors for FS-ICU/total score, while a telephone call at least once a day by an ICU doctor was related to family satisfaction for FS-ICU/dm.

Conclusions: There was low overall family satisfaction with ICU care and virtual communication strategies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts should be targeted for improving factors with virtual communication that cause low family satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; critical care; family; pandemic; satisfaction; virtual communication.