Effects of child visitation in adult critical care units: a pilot study

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Heart Lung

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Heart & lung

PubMed ID


Start Page


End Page



OBJECTIVE: To examine the behavioral and emotional responses of the child and of the nonhospitalized adult family member (NHAFM) to facilitated child visitation in the critical care setting. DESIGN: Quasi-experimental, posttreatment design. SETTING: An adult surgical intensive care unit at a large Midwestern teaching hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty families participated in the study, 10 families in a restricted and 10 families in a facilitated visitation group. Each family unit had a child, an NHAFM, and a critically ill family member. In the control group the NHAFMs visited the patient in the customary routine, but children were restricted from visiting. After a 2-week waiting period a facilitated child visitation intervention was implemented for the experimental group. OUTCOME MEASURES: The child completed measures on anxiety as measured by the Manifest Anxiety Scale and behavioral and emotional changes as measured by the Perceived Change Scale. The NHAFM completed measures on anxiety as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and mood as measured by the Mood Adjective Check List. Family functioning, as measured by the Feetham Family Functioning Survey, and life event changes, as measured by the Life Event Scale, were examined as extraneous variables. INTERVENTION: The Child Visitation Intervention encompassed systematic facilitation and supervision of children visiting a critically ill adult family member in a surgical intensive care unit and provision of emotional support before, during, and after visitation (the intervention protocol may be obtained from the investigators on request). RESULTS: Children in the facilitated visitation group had a greater reduction (t = 4.0, df = 18, p = 0.0004) in negative behavioral and emotional changes as measured by the Child-Perceived Change Scale when compared with children in the restricted visitation group. CONCLUSION: Facilitated child visitation may help children deal with the critical illness of an adult family member and deserves further study.


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Anxiety/epidemiology/etiology/psychology, Child, Child Psychology, Family/psychology, Female, Hospitals, Teaching, Humans, Intensive Care Units/organization & administration, Life Change Events, Male, Middle Aged, Midwestern United States/epidemiology, Models, Psychological, Organizational Policy, Pilot Projects, Questionnaires, Systems Theory, Visitors to Patients/psychology

Published Article/Book Citation

Heart & lung, 22:1 (1993) pp.36-45.

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