Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) increasingly are expected to eventually return home after acute hospital care. Yet transitional care for ICU patients and their families is often delayed until the patient is about to be transferred to another location or level of care. Transitions theory is a middle-range nursing theory that aims to provide guidance for safe and effective nursing care and research while an individual experiences a transition. Intensive care unit nurses are well positioned to provide ICU transitional care planning early. This article applies the transitions theory as a theoretical model to guide the study of the transition to home after acute hospital care for ICU patients and their families. This theory application can help ICU nurses provide holistic patient- and family-centered transitional care to achieve optimal outcomes by addressing the predischarge and postdischarge needs of patients and families.

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