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Heart Lung. 1990 Jul;19(4):401-15.

What are the needs of families of critically ill patients? A review of the literature since 1976.

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  • 1Medical-Surgical Nursing Program, Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, CT 06536-0740.


The research conducted on families' needs in critical care was reviewed to summarize the findings for practice and recommend future directions for research on this topic. A literature search yielded eight articles in which replicable primary research on the needs of families of critically ill patients was reported. These reports, although individually limited by small sample size, presented similar findings. Families rated information needs most important, followed by needs for reassurance and convenience. Strategies to enhance information to families, such as written information, daily contact with physician or nurse or both, and establishing a nurse contact person for families and a family contact person who can be called about changes in patient status, are presented. Recommendations for future research include the study of elderly and male family members and tests of interventions aimed at meeting families' needs.

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