Behavioral responses of family members during critical illness

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Clin Nurs Res

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Clinical nursing research

PubMed ID



This articles describes the behavioral responses of adult family members to critical illness and how these responses change over the course of the hospitalization. A convenience sample of 52 family members of patients in intensive units completed the Iowa ICU Family Scale, a self-report tool measuring sleep, eating, activity, family role, and support behaviors. Scales were completed by family members each day during the first week and then weekly throughout the patient's ICU stay. Family members reported sleeping less with a poorer quality of sleep, less nutritional intake, an increased use of cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter and prescription medications, and spending more time talking, visiting the patient, and waiting. Stress was highest at the time of the ICU admission, began to plateau at Day 6, and then dropped considerably by Day 28. These findings suggest that crisis intervention is important during the early phase of caring for critically ill patients and their family members.


Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Critical Illness, Family/psychology, Female, Humans, Intensive Care Units, Male, Middle Aged, Questionnaires, Stress, Psychological/nursing/psychology, Time Factors

Published Article/Book Citation

Clinical nursing research, 2:4 (1993) pp.414-437.

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