It starts with access! A grounded theory of family members working to get through critical illness

Virginia Vandall-Walker, Alexander M. Clark

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The critical illness of an adult constitutes a crisis for the patient's family.They relinquish primary responsibility for the physical well-being of the patient to health providers, but remain involved, working to get through the situation.What constitutes this "work"? Results of two grounded theory studies revealed that family members were engaged first in the pivotal work of gaining access because of their overarching need to be present with and for their critically ill relative.Other work included patient-related work, nurse/physician-related work, and self-related work.These findings extend our understanding of their experiences beyond current knowledge and paternalistic perceptions of burden, stress and coping, and need recognition and fulfillment.Critical care nurses are exhorted to support family members in their work by removing barriers to patient, staff, and information access and to partnering opportunities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)148-181
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Family Nursing
    Volume17
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011

    Keywords

    • critical care
    • family
    • family needs
    • family response to critical illness
    • family work
    • family-health care professional relationship
    • life-threatening illness

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