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Int J Nurs Stud. 2006 Jan;43(1):39-50. Epub 2005 Sep 22.

Effects of a needs-based education programme for family carers with a relative in an intensive care unit: a quasi-experimental study.

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Faculty of Medicine, The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, China.


Critical illness and subsequent hospitalisation of a relative to an intensive care unit (ICU) can result in many physiological and psychosocial problems for patients and their family members. Caring for the anxiety and frustration of these families is an integral part of critical care nursing. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a needs-based education programme provided within the first 3 days of patients' hospitalisation, on the anxiety levels and satisfaction of psychosocial needs of their families. This was a quasi-experimental study with pre- and post-test design. A convenience sample was recruited over a period of three months, consisting of one primary family carer of each critically ill patient who had been admitted to an ICU in Hong Kong. Conducted by an ICU nurse specially assigned for the purpose, family carers in the experimental group (n=34) received an individual education programme based on the results of a literature review and an individual family needs assessment carried out at the time of patient admission, using the Critical Care Family Needs Inventory. The subjects in the control group (n=32) received the usual orientation and explanation given by the ICU nurses. Anxiety and need satisfaction were measured in the two groups at pre- and post-test and their mean scores were compared. Of the ten most important statements identified by the family carers in the two groups, the statements regarding the needs for information and assurance were found to predominate. After the needs-based intervention, the experimental group reported significantly lower levels of anxiety and higher levels of satisfaction of family needs than the control group at the post-test. The findings support the effectiveness of providing families of newly admitted critically ill patients, with a needs-based educational intervention to allay anxiety and satisfy immediate psychosocial needs. The formulation of a family education programme should be based on the results of a needs assessment, in order to meet family carers' individual needs.

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