Three patterns of symptom communication between patients and clinicians in the intensive care unit: A fieldwork study

Ragnhild Nyhagen*, Ingrid Egerod, Tone Rustøen, Anners Lerdal, Marit Kirkevold

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Abstract

AIM: To describe different patterns of communication aimed at preventing, identifying and managing symptoms between mechanically ventilated patients and clinicians in the intensive care unit.

DESIGN: We conducted a fieldwork study with triangulation of participant observation and individual interviews.

METHODS: Participant observation of nine patients and 50 clinicians: nurses, physiotherapists and physicians. Subsequent individual face-to-face interviews with nine of the clinicians, and six of the patients after they had regained their ability to speak and breathe spontaneously, were fully alert and felt well enough to sit through the interview.

FINDINGS: Symptom communication was found to be an integral part of patient care. We identified three communication patterns: (1) proactive symptom communication, (2) reactive symptom communication and (3) lack of symptom communication. The three patterns co-existed in the cases and the first two complemented each other. The third pattern represents inadequate management of symptom distress.

CONCLUSION: Recognition of symptoms in non-speaking intensive care patients is an important skill for clinicians. Our study uncovered three patterns of symptom communication, two of which promoted symptom management. The third pattern suggested that clinicians did not always acknowledge the symptom distress.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PATIENT CARE: Proactive and reactive symptom assessment of non-speaking patients require patient verification when possible. Improved symptom prevention, identification and management require a combination of sound clinical judgement and attentiveness towards symptoms, implementation and use of relevant assessment tools, and implementation and skill building in augmentative and alternative communication.

IMPACT: This study addressed the challenges of symptom communication between mechanically ventilated patients and clinicians in the intensive care unit. Our findings may have an impact on patients and clinicians concerned with symptom management in intensive care units.

REPORTING METHOD: We used the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research.

PATIENT CONTRIBUTION: A user representative was involved in the design of the study.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of Advanced Nursing
Vol/bind80
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)2540-2551
Antal sider12
ISSN0309-2402
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2024

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