Patient and Family Engagement in the ICU. Untapped Opportunities and Underrecognized Challenges

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Abstract

The call for meaningful patient and family engagement in health care and research is gaining impetus. Healthcare institutions and research funding agencies increasingly encourage clinicians and researchers to work actively with patients and their families to advance clinical care and research. Engagement is increasingly mandated by healthcare organizations and is becoming a prerequisite for research funding. In this article, we review the rationale and the current state of patient and family engagement in patient care and research in the ICU. We identify opportunities to strengthen engagement in patient care by promoting greater patient and family involvement in care delivery and supporting their participation in shared decision-making. We also identify challenges related to patient willingness to engage, barriers to participation, participant risks, and participant expectations. To advance engagement, clinicians and researchers can develop the science behind engagement in the ICU context and demonstrate its impact on patient- and process-related outcomes. In addition, we provide practical guidance on how to engage, highlight features of successful engagement strategies, and identify areas for future research. At present, enormous opportunities remain to enhance engagement across the continuum of ICU care and research.

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