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Intensive Care Med. 2009 Dec;35(12):2051-9. doi: 10.1007/s00134-009-1611-4.

Family satisfaction in the intensive care unit: what makes the difference?

Author information

  • 1Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Bern University Hospital (Inselspital) and University of Bern, 3010 Bern, Switzerland. kay.stricker@insel.ch



To assess family satisfaction in the ICU and to identify parameters for improvement.


Multicenter study in Swiss ICUs. Families were given a questionnaire covering overall satisfaction, satisfaction with care and satisfaction with information/decision-making. Demographic, medical and institutional data were gathered from patients, visitors and ICUs.


A total of 996 questionnaires from family members were analyzed. Individual questions were assessed, and summary measures (range 0-100) were calculated, with higher scores indicating greater satisfaction. Summary score was 78 +/- 14 (mean +/- SD) for overall satisfaction, 79 +/- 14 for care and 77 +/- 15 for information/decision-making. In multivariable multilevel linear regression analyses, higher severity of illness was associated with higher satisfaction, while a higher patient:nurse ratio and written admission/discharge criteria were associated with lower overall satisfaction. Using performance-importance plots, items with high impact on overall satisfaction but low satisfaction were identified. They included: emotional support, providing understandable, complete, consistent information and coordination of care.


Overall, proxies were satisfied with care and with information/decision-making. Still, several factors, such as emotional support, coordination of care and communication, are associated with poor satisfaction, suggesting the need for improvement.


The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-009-1611-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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