Impact of a communication strategy on family satisfaction in the intensive care unit

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Family satisfaction of critically ill patients has gained increased interest as important indicator to evaluate the quality of care in the intensive care unit (ICU). The family satisfaction in the ICU questionnaire (FS-ICU 24) is a well-established tool to assess satisfaction in such settings. We tested the hypothesis that an intervention, aiming at improved communication between health professionals and patients' next of kin in the ICU improves family satisfaction, as assessed by FS-ICU 24.


Using a multicenter before-and-after study design, we evaluated medium-term effectiveness of VALUE, a recently proposed strategy aiming at improved communication. Satisfaction was assessed using the FS-ICU 24 questionnaire. Performance–importance plots were generated in order to identify items highly correlated with overall satisfaction but with low individual score.


A total of 163 completed family questionnaires in the pre-intervention and 118 in the post-intervention period were analyzed. Following the intervention, we observed: (1) a non-significant increase in family satisfaction summary score and sub-scores; (2) no decline in any individual family satisfaction item, and (3) improvement in items with high overall impact on satisfaction but quoted with low degree of satisfaction.


No significant improvement in family satisfaction of critically ill adult patients could be found after implementing the VALUE strategy. Whether these results are due to insufficient training of the new strategy or a missing effect of the strategy in our socio-economic environment remains to be shown.

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