Patient Experiences of Trauma Resuscitation

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Patient satisfaction is an increasingly common feature of quality measurement, and patient-centered care is a key aspect of high-quality clinical care. Incorporating patient preferences in an acute context, such as trauma resuscitation, presents distinct challenges; however, to our knowledge, patients’ experiences of trauma resuscitation have not been explored.


To describe patient experiences of trauma resuscitation and to identify opportunities to improve patient experience without compromising speed or thoroughness.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This qualitative, descriptive study was conducted at an urban, academic, level I trauma center. Semistructured interviews and video observations were conducted from May to December 2015. Interview participants were adult English-speaking patients who had experienced trauma resuscitation and were clinically stable with no alteration in consciousness. We recruited interview participants and conducted video observations until thematic saturation was reached, resulting in 30 interviews and 20 observations. Video observation patients did not overlap with interview participants. The purposive sample included equal numbers of violently and nonviolently injured patients. Data were analyzed for thematic content from June 2015 to April 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The main outcomes reported are themes of patient experience.


Of 30 interview participants, 25 were men (83.3%), and 21 were black (70.0%). Of 20 video observation patients, 16 were men (80.0%), and 17 were black (85.0%). Salient aspects of patient experience of trauma resuscitation included emotional responses, physical experience, nonclinical concerns, treatment and procedures, trauma team members’ interactions, communication, and comfort. Participants drew satisfaction from trauma team members’ demeanor, expertise, and efficiency and valued clear clinical communication, as well as words of reassurance. Dissatisfaction stemmed from the perceived absence of these attributes and from participants’ emotional or physical discomfort. Observation data added insight into the components of care that may have contributed to participants’ responses and those aspects of care that were not salient to participants.

Conclusions and Relevance

Although the urgency of trauma care limits explicit discussion and consideration of patient priorities, we found that patient concerns corresponded well with trauma team goals. Patients perceived trauma team members as competent, efficient, and caring. Focusing on patient communication could further improve patient-centeredness in this setting.

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