The hospitalization of a family member in an intensive care unit can be stressful for the family. Family bedside rounds is a way for the care team to inform family members, answer questions, and involve them in care decisions. The experiences of family members with intensive care unit bedside rounds have been examined in few studies.


To describe (1) the experiences of family members of patients in the intensive care unit who participated in family bedside rounds (ie, view of the illness, role in future management, and long-term consequences on individual and family functioning) and (2) the experiences of families who chose not to participate in family bedside rounds and their perspectives regarding its value, their illness view, and future involvement in care.


A qualitative descriptive study was done, undergirded by the Family Management Style Framework, examining families that participated and those that did not.


Most families that participated (80%) found the process helpful. One overarching theme, Making a Connection: Comfort and Confidence, emerged from participating families. Two major factors influenced how that connection was made: consistency and preparing families for the future. Three types of consistency were identified: consistency in information being shared, in when rounds were being held, and in informing families of rounding delays. In terms of preparing families for the future, families appeared to feel comfortable with the situation when a connection was present. When any of the factors were missing, families described feelings of anger, frustration, and fear. Family members who did not participate described similar feelings and fear of the unknown because of not having participated.


What health care providers say to patients’ families matters. Families may need to be included in decision-making with honest, consistent, easy-to-understand information.

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