Families in pediatric critical care: the best option

Pediatr Nurs. May-Jun 1998;24(3):261-5.


Parental visitation in pediatric intensive care units, induction rooms, and postanesthesia care units is still limited despite the incongruence of such policies with existing stress and social-support theories. As recently as 1994, a survey of 125 randomly selected hospitals in 10 southeastern states found that 57% restricted visits to pediatric patients in intensive care units to brief periods, 5 to 15 times per day (Whitis, 1994). Little justification can be found for these practices. Infection rates have not been found to increase with initiation of 24-hour visitation by family members and support persons. The positive emotional impact of parental presence during a child's hospitalization has been documented for both parents and children. To bring about changes to permit and support open visitation, several things are necessary. First, an understanding of the historical context of visitation policies is important. Second, efforts to dispel concerns are needed, including staff preparation. Third, a philosophical switch to family-centered care must be adopted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Critical Care / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Pediatric Nursing / methods*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Social Support*
  • Visitors to Patients / psychology*