Difficulties in communication in intensive care patients receiving mechanical ventilation are a source of stressful experiences and psychoemotional distress.
To examine the association between communication characteristics and psychoemotional distress among patients treated with mechanical ventilation in a medical intensive care unit and to identify factors that may be predictive of psychological outcomes.
A total of 65 critically ill patients, extubated within the preceding 72 hours, were included in this cross-sectional study. Data were collected by using a structured interview. Separate regression analysis of data on 3 psychoemotional outcomes (psychological distress, fear, and anger) were used for baseline variables, communication characteristics, and stressful experiences.
Difficulty in communication was a positive predictor of patients’ psychological distress, and length of anesthesia was a negative predictor. Fear and anger were also positively related to difficulty in communication. In addition, the number of communication methods was negatively associated with feelings of fear and anger. Finally, the stressful experiences associated with the endotracheal tube were positively related to feelings of anger.
Patients treated with mechanical ventilation experience a moderate to extreme level of psychoemotional distress because they cannot speak and communicate their needs. Nurses should be aware of the patients’ need to communicate. Decreasing stressful experiences associated with the endotracheal tube and implementing more appropriate communication methods may reduce patients’ distress.