Managing Visitors During the Hospital Stay: The Experience of Family Caregivers of Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury

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Family caregivers of patients with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) regularly visit the patient during the hospital stay and are involved in their care. As impairments caused by the TBI often preclude the patient from stating preferences for visitors, family caregivers often make decisions about visitors on the patient’s behalf during the hospital stay. However, limited literature investigates this process. The purpose of this study was to describe family caregivers’ experience of visitors while the patient with moderate-to-severe TBI is hospitalized. Authors used grounded theory to conduct 24 interviews with 16 family caregivers. Findings showed family caregivers manage welcome and unwelcome visitors throughout the hospital stay to protect the patient’s physical and emotional safety and to conserve their own energy. Staff had limited involvement in management of unwelcome visitors. These findings have practice implications for educating hospital staff about providing family nursing and assisting families to manage unwelcome visitors and about policy implications for improving hospital visiting policies.

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