Do health care professionals worry about delirium? Relatives’ experience of delirium in the intensive care unit: A qualitative interview study

This research by Bohart and colleagues was published online in “Intensive and Critical Care Nursing” during May 2019.
Objectives:  In intensive care units, there is a high incidence of delirium, which relates to the risk of complications. Engagement of relatives is an acknowledged part of handling delirium, but knowledge of relatives’ perspectives is lacking.
Aim:  To explore relatives’ experiences of delirium in the critically ill patient admitted to an intensive care unit.Research design:  A qualitative design with a phenomenological approach. Semi-structured interviews with eleven relatives of critically ill patients who had delirium during admission to the intensive care unit.Setting:  An intensive care unit in Denmark.
Findings:  Three categories emerged: ‘Delirium is not the main concern’, ‘Communication with health-care professionals is crucial’, and ‘Delirium impacts on relatives’. Relatives had a lack of knowledge of delirium. Symptoms of delirium were thought of as a natural consequence of critical illness and seemed to be a secondary problem. Health-care professionals did not talk about delirium and information was requested. Delirium and the manifestation of it was experienced in different ways and brought different ways of coping.
Conclusion:  Findings give a new insight into relatives’ experience of delirium in the intensive care unit. Relatives need more information to better understand delirium. Future research must investigate the potential in helping relatives to cope with delirium, to the benefit of both patient and relatives.
Subscribers to Intensive and Critical Care Nursing can access the full text of the article via this link.  The full text of articles from issues older than sixty days is available via this link to an archive of issues of Intensive and Critical Care Nursing.  A Rotherham NHS Athens password is required.  Eligible staff can register for an Athens password via this link.  Please speak to the library staff for more details.

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