Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Nurs Stud. 2010 Apr;47(4):487-99. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.11.013. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

The user experience of critical care discharge: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research.

Author information

Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College, James Clerk Maxwell Building, London SE1 8WA, United Kingdom.



This review identifies the most significant factors, which impact upon the user experience of progress and recovery from critical illness during the first month after discharge from critical care, and discusses these in relation to the development of effective critical care discharge support strategies.


Meta-synthesis of qualitative primary research.


Qualitative research published in English between 1990 and 2009 was identified using online databases: CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, British Nursing Index, CDSR, ACP Journal Club, Cochrane library, Social Policy and Practice and PsycInfo. Studies of adult patients, relatives/carers/significant others, which focused on experiences after discharge from an intensive care or high dependency unit to a general ward were retrieved.


Following screening against inclusion/exclusion criteria, methodological appraisal of studies was conducted using a published framework. Ten studies met the criteria for inclusion.


Five key themes emerged from the meta-synthesis: physical and psychological symptoms; making progress; the need to know; and safety and security.


Findings from this meta-synthesis and other related literature supports the existence of physical and psychological problems in the immediate period following discharge from critical care to the ward, and suggests that patients and their families have a desire for more control over their recovery. However, this desire is countered by a need to feel safe and protected, culminating in an expression of dependence on healthcare staff. Any effective support strategy needs to take account of these findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center