Family members’ involvement in the care of critically ill patients in two intensive care units in an acute hospital in Bahrain: The experiences and perspectives of family members’ and nurses’ - A qualitative study

Eman Ebrahim Fateel, Catherine Sarah O'Neill


Objective: Family can play a vital role in promoting the overall well-being of the critically ill patient. Despite this positive attribute, some nurses, for various reasons are hesitant to include family in patient care. The study explored family members and nurses’ perspectives and experiences of family involvement in caring for patients in intensive care units. The objectives were to describe both nurses and family members’ perspectives and experiences of family involvement in care.

Methods: A descriptive exploratory qualitative study. Focus-group interviews were conducted using a purposeful sample of six family members of critically ill patients and six nurses from two intensive care units of a hospital in Bahrain.

Results: A central finding was that overall critical care nurses were reluctant to involve family in care, despite the fact that generally family members were willing to participate in care. Themes that were common to both participant groups were that caring practices and active communication were central to quality patient care. Both groups agreed that kinship roles and relationships were pivotal to caring practices and enabled a sense of security and reassurance for family and patients. Despite the fact that nurses were aware that family knowledge of the patient made it possible for them to personalize patient care, they were reluctant to have open communication with family members and to include them in care. Instead they favored policy development to guide family involvement.

Conclusions: Family members expressed the need to be part of caring practices. While the nurses acknowledged that family involvement in patient care benefited the patient they wanted policy guidelines to guide this participation in care. The findings suggest that role clarification of family members and clarification on the responsibilities of nurses are needed if family members are to be involved so that patient care adheres to international standards while maintaining cultural sensitivity to Islamic family values.

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Clinical Nursing Studies
ISSN 2324-7940(Print)   ISSN 2324-7959(Online)

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