Restricted hospital visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected family distress and possibly their understanding of patient diagnosis and plan of care. Pre-COVID research shows providing written patient care updates to families improves their overall satisfaction and emotional well-being. However, it is unknown if written updates improve family comprehension of medical information.

Thinnes and colleagues randomized families of adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients into 2 groups—one that received usual care and one that received usual care and daily written email or hard-copy updates. They found

  • The families who received written communication were more likely to correctly identify 3 common ICU problems: shock, renal failure, and weakness.

  • Comprehension improved more in families during times of restricted vs open visitation, though the difference was not statistically significant.

Although further study is needed, written communication provides families with a reference of focused information and consistent terminology that can improve their comprehension of...

You do not currently have access to this content.