Anglia Ruskin University

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Critical illness trajectory for patients, families and nurses - a literature review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 14:25 authored by Pamela Page
Background: In the 21st century, we are starting to discover and understand the longer term sequelae of critical illness from both patient's and family members' perspectives. The consequential effects on physical and psychological function and the social landscape are being slowing realized. We are beginning to understand the long‐term legacy of critical care, with survivorship possibly the greatest challenge within the critical care setting. Aim: To draw together research that has appraised the experience of surviving critical illness from the holistic, triadic perspectives of survivor, relative and critical care nurse. In doing so, knowledge of the complexities of the critical care trajectory is enhanced. Search Strategy: Using Medline; Assia; CINAHL Plus; SCOPUS; Web of knowledge searches from 2000 to 2015 were conducted utilizing the terms ‘critical care’; ‘intensive care’, ITU; patient*; relative*; family member*; experience*; nurse*, and trajectory. Relevant exclusion criteria were applied to provide a generalist adult critical care perspective. Results: Following a process of constant comparative analysis of the literature and thematic synthesis, seven themes were highlighted. Facing mortality, critical junctures, physiological sequelae, psychological sequelae, family presence, beyond meeting the needs of family members and technology versus humanity were all emergent themes. Conclusion: As humans, we do not live an isolated life; we are interdependent upon each other. This inclusive review of literature has highlighted the lacunae and areas of dissonance both in the literature and in clinical practice in relation to the critical care trajectory as experienced by survivors of critical illness and their families. Relevance to clinical practice: Critical care nurses can and should play a role in preparing and supporting patients and families beyond the critical care unit. In turn, Registered Nurses needed to be supported to fulfil this important role in enabling the process of moving patients and their families from surviving to thriving (survivorship).



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Nursing in Critical Care






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ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)