A qualitative study of bereaved family members with complicated grief following a death in the intensive care unit
- Additional Document Info
- View All
PURPOSE: Grief is a normal reaction, and most family members (FMs) experience grief following a death. Typically, grief subsides without any major psychological or medical impairment. Nevertheless, some FMs may experience complicated grief (CG) reactions, with symptoms lasting months or years, and CG is particularly prominent among FMs of those who die in the intensive care unit (ICU). The purpose of this study was to examine how FMs experience grief, particularly CG, to inform future early screening and support programs in the ICU. METHODS: This was a multicentre qualitative study focusing on semi-structured interviews with FMs who displayed symptoms of CG. Family members of patients who died in the ICU and who had a six-month inventory of CG score > 25 were included. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with FMs post-loss, with follow-up interviews three months after the initial interviews. RESULTS: Major themes identified following thematic analysis from eight participants with CG included 1) ante-mortem experience: the impact of the ICU experience prior to death of a loved on subsequent grief; 2) post-mortem experience: unpredictable post death reactions; 3) coping strategies: techniques used to reduce the severity of grief reactions; 4) sources of support: focusing on resources that the FM draws from for emotional support; and 5) perspectives on future ICU bereavement screening and support programs: advice that FM participants provided for future bereavement support. CONCLUSION: Bereaved FMs with CG described their experiences with grief, how ICU events influenced their bereavement, their coping strategies and sources of support, and their advice for future bereavement support programs for FMs of deceased ICU patients.
has subject area