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09.08.2018 | original article Open Access

Prioritizing information topics for relatives of critically ill patients

Cross-sectional survey among intensive care unit relatives and professionals

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift
Magdalena Hoffmann, Anna K. Holl, Harald Burgsteiner, Philipp Eller, Thomas R. Pieber, Karin Amrein
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00508-018-1377-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Availability of data and material

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


A patient’s admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) has a significant impact on family members and other relatives. In order for them to be able to cope with such a stressful situation, the availability of appropriate understandable and accessible information is crucial. The information asymmetry between relatives and medical professionals may adversely affect satisfaction of relatives and their risk of subsequent anxiety, depression and stress symptoms. The aim of this study was therefore to understand which topics are most important to the relatives of ICU patients and to quantify the perceptions of medical professionals regarding the information needs of relatives. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2015. The survey had 42 questions, such as ‘diagnosis’, ‘treatment’, ‘comfort’, ‘family’ and ‘end of life’. In total, the survey was handed out to four different groups. A total of 336 persons answered the survey (26 relatives, 28 ICU physicians, 202 ICU nurses and 80 ICU medical professionals in a closed Facebook© group [Facebook, Menlo Park, California, USA]). Relatives ranked the five most important topics as follows: ‘recent events (crisis)’, ‘my participation’, ‘contamination in hospital’, ‘physical pain’, and ‘probability’. Several significant differences (p<0.001) were detected, for example for the topics fever, medication, recent events (crisis), appointments, relapse, and investigations. Even the topic with the lowest ranking (religion) had a score of 3.15 (min. 1.00, max. 5.00) among relatives. The ICU professionals appear to have divergent opinions regarding the most important topics for ICU relatives as compared to relatives themselves.
Survey of the study
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