Department of Nursing
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Aims: To explore adult experiences of fatigue after discharge from an intensive care unit and to identify potential management strategies.
Design: An exploratory qualitative study
Methods: One to one audio-recorded semi-structured interviews with 17 adult survivors of critical illness in the United Kingdom, lasting up to one hour, between September 2019 and January 2020. Anonymised and verbatim-transcribed interview data underwent a standard process of inductive thematic analysis as described by Braun and Clarke.
Findings: Three themes were identified: fatigue is different for everyone; complex interrelating interactions; and personalised fatigue strategies. Fatigue was described as a distressing symptom, unique to the individual that causes an array of complex, often long-term interrelating impacts on the survivor and their wider family, made worse by a lack of understanding, empathy, and support resources. Support from others, alongside interventions such as exercise, good nutrition, information, and alternative therapies are used by survivors with variable degrees of success.
Conclusions: This qualitative study reports peoples’ experiences of fatigue after critical illness. Findings highlight the significant impact it has on people’s lives and those of their family and friends.
Impact: aim; findings and recommendations
We conducted a mixed methods systematic review to investigate the prevalence, experience and management of fatigue in survivors of critical illness. We identified 76 studies investigating fatigue or vitality in adults discharged from an intensive care unit and split the data we extracted into three datasets: vitality scores from the Short Form Health Survey-36 (n = 54); other quantitative data (n = 19); and qualitative data (n = 9). We assessed methodological quality using critical appraisal skills programme tools. We adopted a segregated approach to mixed-methods synthesis. In a final step, we attributed combined results to one of four qualitative themes: prevalence and severity; contributing factors; impacts on quality of life; and assessment and management. Prevalence of fatigue ranged from 13.8 to 80.9%. Short Form Health Survey-36 vitality scores were commonly used as a marker of fatigue. Vitality scores reached a nadir approximately 1 month following ICU discharge (mean (SD) 56.44 (32.30); 95%CI 52.92–59.97). They improved over time, but seldom reached reference population scores. Associated biological, disease-related and psychological factors included age, poor pre-morbid status, sleep and psychological disturbance. Qualitative data highlight the profound negative impact of fatigue on survivors’ quality of life. Survivors seldom had any information provided on the potential impact of fatigue. No fatigue assessment tools specific to critical illness or evidence-based interventions were reported. Fatigue is highly prevalent in survivors of critical illness, and negatively impacts recovery. Further research on developing fatigue assessment tools specifically for critically ill patients and evaluating the impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacology interventions is needed.
Aim: To provide an evidence-based British Association of Critical Care Nurses endorsed consensus paper for best practice relating to implementing oral care, with the intention of promoting patient comfort and reducing hospital acquired pneumonia and ventilator associated pneumonia in critically ill patients. Design: A nominal group technique was adopted. A consensus committee of adult critical care nursing experts from the United Kingdom met in 2018 to evaluate and review the literature relating to oral care, its application in reducing pneumonia in critically ill adults and to make recommendations for practice. An elected national board member for the British Association of Critical Care Nurses chaired the round table discussion.
Methods: The committee focused on 5 aspects of oral care practice relating to critically ill adult patients. The evidence was evaluated for each practice within the context of reducing pneumonia in the mechanically ventilated patient or pneumonia in the non-ventilated patient. The five practices included the frequency for oral care; tools for oral care; oral care technique; solutions used and oral care in the non-ventilated patient who is critically ill and is at risk of aspiration. The group searched the best available evidence and evaluated this using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system to assess the quality of evidence from high to very low, and to formulate recommendations as strong, moderate, weak, or best practice consensus statement when applicable. Results: The consensus group generated recommendations, delineating an approach to best practice for oral care in critically ill adult patients. Recommendations included guidance for frequency and procedure for oral assessment, toothbrushing, and moisturising the mouth. Evidence on the use of chlorhexidine is not consistent and caution is advised with its routine use. Conclusion: Oral care is an important part of the care of critically ill patients, both ventilated and non-ventilated. An effective oral care programme reduces the incidence of pneumonia and promotes patient comfort.
Aims. To identify factors that influence recognition and response to adult patient deterioration in acute hospitals. Design. A Mixed-Studies Systematic Review. Data sources. CINAHL, Medline and Web of Science were searched for relevant literature published between; 2007-2018. Review Methods. Studies were critically appraised, data extracted and thematically analyzed. Results. Thirteen papers met the inclusion criteria. Three main themes were identified: (1) Knowledge and understanding of clinical deterioration; (2) Organizational factors; managing deterioration and staffing levels; and (3) Communication; inter-professional relationships and professional-patient communication. Conclusion. Despite national guidelines, the review findings suggest that the recognition and response to adult patient deterioration in acute hospital settings is sub-optimal. A multitude of factors influencing the recognition and response to adult patient deterioration emerged from the findings. Impact. Patients are receiving sub-optimal care due to failure in recognizing and responding to patient deterioration in an appropriate and timely manner. Nurses lack knowledge and understanding of deterioration. Organizational factors contribute to inadequate care and communication among professionals was highlighted as challenging. The factors that influence the recognizing and responding to patient deterioration in acute hospitals are multi-faceted, however this review highlights immediate recommendations for professionals in the acute care setting.
Background. Patients discharged from intensive care may experience psychological and physical deficits resulting in a long and complex rehabilitation upon discharge. Relatives are also vulnerable to psychological pathologies and diminished health‐related quality of life following the patients' critical illness. Relatives often provide care during the patients' rehabilitation, which may influence their health. Aim. To report the outcomes and experiences of relatives of patients discharged home after critical illness. Design. Systematic integrative review. Methods. Electronic databases Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PubMed, Embase®, and PsychINFO® were searched using keywords, synonyms, and medical subject headings. Reference lists of articles and critical care journals were manually searched. Studies eligible for inclusion reported primary research and were published in English between 2007 and 2017. Studies were appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklists. Data were extracted and then analysed according to framework. Findings. Twenty‐five studies were included: 19 quantitative, 4 qualitative, and 1 mixed method study. Three themes were identified: health and well‐being, employment and lifestyle, and caregiving role. Health and well‐being reports the incidence and significance of psychological morbidity such as post‐traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Employment and lifestyle describes the impact of caregiving on the relative's ability to work and engage in usual social activities. The final theme describes and discusses the caregiving role in terms of activities of daily living, knowledge and skills, and adaption to the role. Conclusions. There is a significant and meaningful impact on outcomes and experiences of relatives of patients discharged home after critical illness. Relatives' caregiving is embedded within the context of their psychological morbidity and social adjustment. Relevance to practice. If informal care giving is to be sustainable, there is a need to design effective strategies of supporting families through all stages of the critical illness trajectory.
Patients entering intensive care encounter physical and psychological stress which may lead to psychological morbidity such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It has been suggested that constructing a story may assist psychological recovery however this has been minimally investigated in the intensive care patient.
The aim of this paper is to examine the process of story construction in patients’ phenomenological accounts of being a patient in the technological environment of intensive care.
The study design was informed by Heideggerian phenomenology.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted in nineteen patients who had been in intensive care for at least four days. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and analysed utilising Van Manen’s framework for thematic analysis.
Making sense of their experiences in ICU appeared to be fundamental to story construction. Themes that arose were: “Why am I here?”, “Filling in the gaps”, “Sorting the real from the unreal” and “Searching for familiarity”. These themes describe how participants sought temporal and causal coherence in order to construct their integrated and understandable story. Families appeared to play a critical role in assisting participants in filling in the gaps, sorting the real from the unreal and their subsequent psychological recovery.
Conclusions and relevance to clinical practice
The importance of early support from health care professionals to facilitate patients’ story construction is highlighted. The study also emphasizes the role of families in supporting patients in making sense of their experiences and the associated psychological recovery process. Further research to evaluate methods of facilitating story construction such as nurse-led de-briefing, patient diaries, is recommended. In addition investigation of families’ perceptions of their role in assisting patients to construct their story may facilitate health care professionals in developing strategies to effectively support families in their role.
To investigate patients’ experiences of technology in an adult intensive care unit
Technology is fundamental to support physical recovery from critical illness in Intensive Care Units. As well as physical corollaries, psychological disturbances are reported in critically ill patients at all stages of their illness and recovery. Nurses play a key role in the physical and psychological care of patients, however there is a suggestion in the literature that the presence of technology may dehumanise patient care and distract the nurse from attending to patients psychosocial needs. Little attention has been paid to patients’ perceptions of receiving care in a technological environment.
This study was informed by Heideggerian phenomenology.
The research took place in 2009-2011 in a university hospital in England. Nineteen participants who had been patients in ICU were interviewed guided by an interview topic prompt list. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Van Manen’s framework.
Participants described technology and care as inseparable and presented their experiences as a unified encounter. The theme ‘Getting on with it’ described how participants endured technology by ‘Being Good’ and ‘Being Invisible’. ‘Getting over it’ described why participants endured technology by ‘Bowing to Authority’ and viewing invasive technologies as a ‘Necessary Evil’.
Patients experienced technology and care as a series of paradoxical relationships: alienating yet reassuring, uncomfortable yet comforting, impersonal yet personal. By maintaining a close and supportive presence and providing personal comfort and care nurses may minimise the invasive and isolating potential of technology.
To report the results of a randomised controlled trial which explored the effectiveness of clinical simulation in improving the clinical performance of recognising and managing an adult deteriorating patient in hospital.
There is evidence that final year undergraduate nurses may lack the knowledge, clinical skills and situation awareness required to competently manage a deteriorating patient in hospital. The effectiveness of clinical simulation as an educational strategy to teach the skills required to recognise and effectively manage the early signs of clinical deterioration needs to be evaluated.
This was a two centre, randomised, controlled trial with single blinded assessments. Data were collected in July 2013. Ninety- eight first year nursing students were randomised either into a control group where they received a traditional classroom lecture, or an intervention group where they received simulation training. Participants completed a pre and post- intervention objective structured clinical examination. General Perceived Self Efficacy and Self-Reported Competency scores were measured before and after the intervention. Student satisfaction with teaching was surveyed after the teaching intervention.
The intervention group performed significantly better in the objective structured clinical examination after their simulation training. General Perceived Self Efficacy and Self-Reported Competency were not correlated with performance. There was no significant difference in the post intervention General Perceived Self Efficacy and Self-Reported Competency scores between the control and intervention group. The intervention group were significantly more satisfied with their teaching method.
Simulation based education may be an effective educational strategy to teach nurses the necessary skills to effectively recognise and manage a deteriorating patient.
Participants evaluated the frequency of opportunity to practise, level of supervision and assessment of and feedback on performance of specific clinical skills. Clinical skills evaluated were measurement of vital signs, aseptic non-touch technique, assisting with eating and drinking, and assisting with comfort and hygiene. Data were analysed utilising Statistical Package for the Social Sciences Version 19.
The frequency of opportunities to practise skills in clinical placement was variable with some participants reporting that they never had opportunity to practise essential skills. Similarly the level of supervision and assessment was also inconsistent suggesting that participants frequently practised clinical skills unsupervised without being assessed as competent.