Family Satisfaction With End-of-Life Care in the Intensive Care Unit: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Abstract

Background:

Assessment of family satisfaction after the death of a loved one in the intensive care unit (ICU) provides a way to determine whether quality end-of-life care was received by the patient and family. The purpose of this systematic review was to explore the factors associated with family satisfaction with end-of-life care in the ICU.

Methods:

A systematic literature review was conducted using electronic databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsychINFO. Databases were searched using a combination of search terms: “family satisfaction,” “end of life,” “intensive care unit,” and “family.” Results were limited to English-language reports of empirical studies published from January 2000 to January 2016. Studies describing adult family members’ satisfaction with end-of-life care of patients admitted or transferred to an ICU were included in the review.

Results:

The search yielded 466 articles. Review of the titles and abstracts resulted in 122 articles that underwent full review; 30 articles met study inclusion and were included in the final analysis. Major themes identified from the literature reviewed included communication, decision making, nursing care, ICU environment, and spiritual care.

Conclusions:

Families can provide valuable insight and information on the quality of care provided in the ICU at end of life. Their perceptions of communication, decision making, nursing care, the ICU environment, and spiritual support strongly influence their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with end-of-life care in the ICU. Personalized and frequent communication; assistance in the decision-making process; compassionate nursing care; a warm, family-friendly environment; and spiritual support can help alleviate the sequelae and enhance family satisfaction with end-of-life care in the ICU.

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