Voices of family members and significant others in the tele-intensive care unit

Document Type


Publication Date



Nursing, Critical Care Medicine

Journal Title

Critical care nurse

MeSH Headings

Aged; Communication; Data Collection; Family (psychology); Humans; Intensive Care Units; Pilot Projects; Telecommunications


BACKGROUND: Research suggests that tele-intensive care units (tele-ICUs) are associated with decreases in mortality rates, length of stay, and health care costs. However, little is known about the awareness and perceptions of the tele-ICU among patients' significant others. OBJECTIVES: To assess whether patients' significant others were informed about the tele-ICU, what their preferences are regarding source and type of information about the tele-ICU, and what their perceptions are of the impact of the tele-ICU on patient care. METHODS: A survey was conducted with a nonprobability, convenience sample of patients' significant others at 3 health systems. RESULTS: Two-thirds of patients' significant others reported that they were uninformed about the tele-ICU and identified staff as the preferred source for this information. The 3 most important topics of information were patients' physical privacy, impact on patient care, and the technology. Most expressed favorable perceptions of the tele-ICU. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study demonstrated significant gaps in communication about the tele-ICU between staff and patients' significant others and revealed a preference to be informed about the tele-ICU by staff. Study findings will help define goals, objectives, and methods for further research to improve communication with patients' significant others about the tele-ICU.

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