OBJECTIVE: To assess the beliefs and attitudes of critical care nurses about the effects of visiting on patients, staff and family. DESIGN: Both interviews and questionnaires were used to gather data on nurses' attitudes and beliefs about visiting and open visiting according to the format of Ajzen and Fishbein's Theory of Reasoned Action. SETTING: Five Utah intensive care units and three Ohio intensive care units. SAMPLE: Critical care nurses in Utah (N = 29) and Ohio (N = 41) were interviewed to assess their beliefs about the effects of visiting on patients, families, nurses and nursing care delivery. RESULTS: Nurses believed the consequence of visiting was more positive for the patient from a psychological perspective than from a physiological perspective but that the effects might differ depending on the patient, the visitor and the circumstances. They believed that visiting had negative consequences for families, because they became exhausted, and that visiting was disruptive for nursing care delivery. Their attitudes about effects of visiting on nursing staff were consistently more negative than were attitudes about the effects on the patient and the family. CONCLUSION: To provide an optimal situation for visiting, its negative consequences must be minimized and nurses' attitudes and beliefs about visiting must be assessed and addressed.

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