“To See With My Own Eyes”: Experiences of Family Visits During Phase 1 Recovery

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Long separations are a characteristic of the day of surgery, keeping patients and their family members waiting and apart. At a time of high vulnerability, these separations can cause anxiety and worry. The purpose of this study was to identify the outcomes and experiences of patients and family members who engaged in a 5- to 10-minute supervised family visit during phase I postanesthesia recovery.


This was a descriptive, single-group, mixed-methods study.


Quantitative data, gathered on the day of surgery, was obtained from patients (vital signs, state anxiety scores) and their designated family members (state anxiety scores); satisfaction with the visit was also measured. An optional second, qualitative phase included a semi-structured interview examining the remembered experiences of patients and family members.


A statistically significant drop in state anxiety was discovered after the visit, and satisfaction with the visit was exceedingly high. Qualitatively, patients and family members described their overwhelming relief to be able “to see with my own eyes” how well each was doing.


This study supports that family visits in the postanesthesia care unit are safe and profoundly important as an independent nursing intervention. Recommendations include implementation of family visits during postanesthesia care unit recovery for all patients and family members who desire them.

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