Author(s): Plakas S, Taket A, Cant B, Fouka G, Vardaki Z
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Abstract AIM: To explore the meaning of vigilant attendance for relatives of critically ill patients in Greece. BACKGROUND: A plethora of international research has identified proximity to the patient to be a major concern for relatives of critically ill patients. Greece however follows a strict visiting policy in intensive care units (ICUs) so Greek relatives spend great amounts of time just outside the ICUs. DESIGN: This qualitative study adopted the social constructionist version of grounded theory. METHOD: Data were collected from three ICUs in Athens through in depth interviews with 25 informants and approximately 10 h of observations outside the ICUs on 159 relatives. FINDINGS: Vigilant attendance was one of the main coping mechanisms identified for relatives. Four subcategories were found to comprise vigilant attendance: (1) being as close as possible to feel relief, (2) being there to find out what is going on, (3) monitoring changes in the loved one and making own diagnosis and (4) interacting with the ICU professionals. CONCLUSION: Vigilant attendance describes the way in which relatives in Greece stayed outside the ICUs. Relatives felt satisfaction from being close as the best alternative for not actually being inside the ICU and they tried to learn what was going on by alternative methods. By seeing the patients, relatives were also able to make their own diagnoses and could therefore avoid relying solely on information given to them. However, a prerequisite for successful vigilant attendance was to get on well with doctors and nurses. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLINICAL PRACTICE: Changes in visiting policies in Greece are needed to meet the needs of relatives adequately. Recommendations for changes with minimal investment of time and funding are made. © 2013 British Association of Critical Care Nurses.
This article was published in Nurs Crit Care
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine