Nurses' experiences of caring for critically ill, non-sedated, mechanically ventilated patients in the Intensive Care Unit: A qualitative study

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to explore nurses' experiences of caring for non-sedated, critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

DESIGN AND SETTING: The study had a qualitative explorative design and was based on 13 months of fieldwork in two intensive care units in Denmark where a protocol of no sedation is implemented. Data were generated during participant observation in practice and by interviews with 16 nurses. Data were analysed using thematic interpretive description.

FINDINGS: An overall theme emerged: "Demanding, yet rewarding". The demanding aspects of caring for more awake intubated patients included unpredictability, ambiguous needs and complex actions, while the rewarding aspects included personal interaction. Three sub-themes were identified: (i) caring for and with the patient, (ii) negotiating relational and instrumental care and (iii) managing physical and emotional closeness.

CONCLUSION: Despite the complexity of care, nurses preferred to care for more awake rather than sedated patients and appreciated caring for just one patient at a time. The importance of close collaboration between nurses and doctors to ensure patient comfort during mechanical ventilation was valued. Caring for more awake non-sedated patients required the nurses to act at the interface between ambiguous possibilities and needs, which was perceived as both demanding and rewarding.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Volume31
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)196-204
ISSN0964-3397
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2. Mar 2015

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