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Sudden hospitalization of a relative to a critical care setting is a catastrophic event for families. Nurses may not always assess the needs of relatives the way they themselves experience their needs to provide support. This qualitative study was conducted to explore the experiences of relatives of patients in adult neurosurgery ICUs in Shiraz, Iran.
In this qualitative study, grounded theory was used to explore the experiences of 10 relatives of patients in neurosurgery ICUs. The data consisted of in-depth interviews and participant and nonparticipant observation. All data were recorded by writing in a notebook, and subsequent listening to the audio recordings and reading through the transcription of each interview was done.
Five major categories emerged from the data: information seeking, vigilant attendance, intense emotion, need for respect, and need to care about patient privacy. The most important needs of relatives were to have information about the condition of their loved one, talk to a doctor and their questions are answered honestly. The other theme was vigilant attendance. Many informants pointed out that they were willing to stay continuously inside the ICU to see what is going on and they wanted flexible open visiting. Also relatives showed the suffering they experience and their needs for support and empathy. The study also defined two new concepts in this area: need for respect and care about patient privacy.
It is essential that intensive care nurses are able to identify the specific needs of family members to provide appropriate supportive interventions.