BACKGROUND: In ICUs, an essential component of caring for patients' families is providing information about the patient's status. Nevertheless, interruptions by family members requesting information create an additional burden for nursing staff. OBJECTIVES: To test a structured communications program for family members to determine whether the program would increase family members' satisfaction with care, meet their needs for information better, and decrease disruption for the ICU nursing staff caused by incoming telephone calls from patients' family members. METHODS: The study used a two-group, pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. The sample consisted of 30 family members of patients in a medical ICU (experimental group, n = 15; control group, n = 15). The intervention consisted of a structured communication program consisting of three components: (1) a discussion with a nurse approximately 24 hours after admission of the patient, (2) an informational pamphlet given at the time of the discussion, and (3) a daily telephone call from the nurse who was caring for the patient that day. RESULTS: The number of incoming calls from family members was significantly lower in the experimental group than in the control group. In the experimental group, satisfaction with care increased significantly from pretest to posttest, as did the members' perception of how well their information needs were being met. CONCLUSIONS: The intervention reduced the number of incoming calls from family members, without compromising family members' satisfaction with care or how well their information needs were met.

You do not currently have access to this content.