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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Towards a new orientation: a qualitative longitudinal study of an intensive care recovery programme

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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To describe the patient experience of ICU recovery from a longitudinal perspective by analysing follow-up consultations at three time-points.

BACKGROUND: After a stay in the intensive care unit, patients risk physical and psychological problems during recovery. Follow-up after intensive care has emerged to aid psychological recovery, and improve health-related quality of life. More insight is needed into the mechanisms of intensive care recovery.

DESIGN: A descriptive multicenter longitudinal qualitative design.

METHODS: A subsample of 36 consultations with 12 patients strategically selected from a randomised controlled trial on intensive care recovery from 10 Danish intensive care units. Data were generated during an ICU recovery programme including three consultations (at 1-3, 4-5, 9-11 months). First consultation was face-to-face using patient photographs to aid memory. Second and third consultations were by telephone using reflection sheets to focus dialogue. Thematic analysis and narrative theory were used to explore mechanisms of recovery using audio-recordings of consultations, patient photographs and reflection sheets as the sources of data.

RESULTS: The basic narrative of recovery was 'toward a trajectory of new orientation'. This narrative contained the chronological narratives of being 'at death's door', 'still not out of the woods' and 'on the road to recovery'. The road to recovery was described as downhill, steady-state or progressive. New orientation was obtained in steady-state or progressive recovery.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a contemporary understanding of the process of intensive care recovery. Recovery evolves through narratives of mortal danger, risk of relapse and moving forward towards a new orientation in life.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: These findings enable health care professionals to understand what patients experience during stages of recovery. This is important to improve health care professionals in the assessment of long-term outcome, and management of patients after intensive care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Volume26
Issue number(1-2)
Pages (from-to)77-90
ISSN0962-1067
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 49190599