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Keywords

Critical care patients, Critical care health care providers, Perceptions, stressors

 

Authors

  1. Abuatiq, Alham PhD, MSN, RN

Abstract

Purpose: The purposes of this study is first, to investigate intensive care patients' perceptions of stressors; second, to investigate the health care provider's perception of what constitutes a stressor from the patient's perspective; and third, to describe how health care providers manage their patients' stressors. This was a mixed-methods study; the quantitative section replicated Cornock's 1998 study of stress in the intensive care unit (ICU), with difference in sampling to include all health care providers in the ICU, in addition to nurses. The qualitative section added information to the current literature by describing how health care providers manage their patient's stressors. This article reports the quantitative findings of this study, as the qualitative section is presented in a separate article.

 

Background and Significance: It is important to describe ICU patients' stressful experiences to assess patient's stressors, provide holistic care to eliminate stressors, and provide feedback to health care providers. There is a need to describe the clinical practice related to stress perception and management of stressors in the critical care environment.

 

Methodology: A mixed-methods comparative descriptive design was used for the quantitative section, and a phenomenological approach guided the qualitative section. Lazarus and Folkman's theory formed the bases for integrating all variables investigated in this study. The sample included 70 ICU patients and 70 ICU health care providers. After consenting to participate in this study, subjects were given a demographic form and a paper-based tool, the Environmental Stressors graphic data form Questionnaire. Questionnaires were filled out by subjects anonymously in the ICU and returned to the researcher in the same setting.

 

Findings: Descriptive statistics were analyzed using SPSS data analysis software. The top 3 most stressful items ranked by the patients included "being in pain," followed by "not being able to sleep" and "financial worries"; on the other hand, health care providers perceived "being in pain" followed by "not being able to communicate" and "not being in control of yourself" as the top 3 stressors perceived by their patients.

 

Implications for Practice: The findings of this study are crucial and may inform nursing assessments and care of the ICU patient. In addition, this information may encourage the ICU staff to manipulate and redesign the ICU environment to be less stressful. Also, the findings of this study guided the development of an ICU stressor control policy.