Telehealth-based intensive care unit recovery clinics (ICU-RCs) can increase access to post-ICU recovery care for patients and their families. It is crucial to understand patients’ and caregivers’ experience of illness and recovery to build patient- and family-centered ICU-RCs.
To explore patients’ and caregivers’ perceptions of ICU hospitalization and recovery.
Individual semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 14 patients and 12 caregivers who participated in a telehealth ICU-RC. This study was guided by qualitative description methodology. Conventional content analysis was used to analyze the data.
Patients described their ICU hospitalization as scary, traumatic, and lonely. Participants’ feedback on hospitalization ranged from praise to criticism. Patients wanted more realistic and detailed prognostication about post-ICU recovery and more physical therapy after discharge. Patients strongly valued the mental health component of ICU-RC visits, which contrasted with the scant attention paid to mental health in other postdischarge health care settings. Their knowledge about post-ICU recovery and connectedness to a primary care provider varied.
Examining patients’ and caregivers’ perceptions of ICU hospitalization and recovery highlights ICU-RC components that can be strengthened to support patient- and family-centered recovery. The ICU-RC staff should invite patients to share feedback about their ICU stay; give a timely, realistic prognosis for recovery; offer mental health consultations; provide physical therapy; and partner with patients and their caregivers to develop and deliver post-ICU care.