Family Members’ Visiting Experience in an ICU: Being an Outsider

Lian Zhu*, Susanne Kean, Catherine Clarissa, Jennifer Tocher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: Family presence is a key component of patient- and family-centred care in the intensive care unit (ICU) context. Visitation policies vary significantly across institutions worldwide, from 24-hour to 30-minute ones. The visitation policy in operation impacts families' experience when visiting their critically ill family member. In China, the policies restrict family visitation to 30 minutes per day in nearly all ICUs. In this context, little attention has been paid so far in understanding the impact of such restricted visitation policy being
implemented on families and patients.

Aims and Objectives: To understand the experience of family members visiting in a Chinese adult ICU.

Methods: This study used a focused ethnographic approach. Between April and December in 2021, semi-structured interviews with 19 family members, and 39 participant observation sessions, up to 65.3 hours, during a patient’s ICU hospitalisation were conducted. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Outcomes: The theme “being an outsider” represented family members’ visiting experience, which reflected families being in a space they could not control and thus limited their ability to care for their critically ill family member. Two sub-themes were identified.
1) The restricted access to the patient: the visiting restrictions demarcated a spatial territory where family members were not permitted to access inside except the designated visiting time slot;
2) Family member exclusion from care: patients, medical devices and nurses occupied the bed space, which was characterised by a professional domain. Family members felt they were excluded from patient care as nurses cared in private.

Conclusion: Visitation policies should consider families’ needs to be near their critically ill family member. Nurses and policy makers should shift their attention to these needs and relax such restricted visitation policies. This would allow to integrate family members into some care activities and enhance shared decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023
EventThe 42nd Annual International Nursing & Midwifery Research and Education Conference - RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, 123 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland, D02 YN77, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 23 Feb 2023 → …


ConferenceThe 42nd Annual International Nursing & Midwifery Research and Education Conference
Period23/02/23 → …


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