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...