Measuring the ability to meet family needs in an intensive care unit

Crit Care Med. 1998 Feb;26(2):266-71. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199802000-00023.


Objective: To measure the ability to meet family needs in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Design: Descriptive survey.

Setting: University hospital ICU.

Subjects: Ninety-nine next of kin respondents and 16 secondary family respondents were recruited.

Interventions: A modified Society of Critical Care Medicine Family Needs Assessment instrument was used.

Measurements and main results: Demographic variables included patient age, gender, diagnosis, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score on admission, Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System (TISS) score on the date of interview, cumulative TISS of the ICU on the day of interview, number of patients in the ICU at time of interview, nurse/patient ratio for the patient, average nurse/patient ratio of the entire unit, day of the week of the interview, timing of the interview, number of ICU attending physicians who cared for this patient (scheduled for a period of seven consecutive days), number of nurses who cared for the patient, if a nurse was assigned the same patient on two consecutive days worked, length of stay in the ICU, and length of hospital stay. Demographic information concerning the family member included gender, age, commuting time to the hospital, visiting time in the hospital per day, number in family group, relationship to the patient, ethnic background, and education level. The additive score of all questions in the needs assessment instrument was calculated and used as the dependent variable. The independent variables were demographic information concerning patients, ICU, and respondents. The model coefficient of determination (R2adj) was 0.20 with a p = .0079. Greater family dissatisfaction (i.e., higher score) was present if there were more than two ICU attendings per patient (p = .048), or if the same nurse was not assigned on two consecutive days (p = .044). Family satisfaction increased if the respondent was female (p = .006), if the patient had a higher APACHE II score (p = .007), and if the patient's relationship with the most significant family member was brother/sister (p = .012). The family needs instrument was reliable and demonstrated a high degree of concordance with a second respondent in the same family surveyed.

Conclusions: Communication by the same provider was important when measuring the ability of an ICU to meet family needs. Instrument scores and the ability to meet family needs differed depending on the gender and the relationship to the patient of the most significant family member. We speculate that this instrument may be a useful adjunct in assessing quality of critical care services provided.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Communication
  • Critical Care / psychology*
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Demography
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Saskatchewan
  • Surveys and Questionnaires