Overwhelmed family decision makers of chronically critically ill patients must comprehend vital information to make complex treatment decisions that are consistent with patients’ preferences. Exploration of informational coping styles of family decision makers may yield evidence for tailored communication practices supporting the psychological and informational needs of family decision makers.


To describe patterns in the demographic characteristics and informational coping styles of family decision makers; to assess differences in informational satisfaction, role stress, and depressive symptoms between family decision makers classified as monitors and as blunters; and to describe the predictive associations between informational coping styles, informational satisfaction, and role stress on depressive symptoms in family decision makers.


A secondary data analysis of 210 family decision makers of cognitively impaired patients who required 3 days or more of mechanical ventilation. On enrollment, decision makers completed the abbreviated Miller Behavioral Style Scale to assess informational coping styles, the Critical Care Family Satisfaction Survey’s informational subscale to assess informational satisfaction, a single-item measure of role stress, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale to assess depressive symptoms.


No associations emerged between demographic characteristics and informational coping styles of family decision makers. Monitors had higher depression scores than did blunters. Both information coping style and informational satisfaction influenced depressive symptoms; however, role stress was the most significant predictor.


Family decision makers classified as monitors were at higher risk for depression than were those who seem to avoid information. Targeting monitors with additional psychological and informational support may mitigate their psychological impairment.

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