Family Satisfaction in the ICU

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Chairperson

Virginia Masen, PhD, RN, CCRN

Committee Member

Marlene Beck, DNP, RN, CNE

Committee Member

Kerry A, Milner, DNSc, RN


Background: More than a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine challenged healthcare providers to move from a model of patient-centered care to a more encompassing, family-centered care model. While this model reflects mainstream practice in the pediatric realm, it constitutes a tremendous change in the way healthcare is delivered to adults, particularly critically ill adults. Few attempts to benchmark progress toward this goal have been made. Current mainstream surveys, such as Press Ganey and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, are unable to capture or measure the level of family satisfaction with care delivered in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Assessing family satisfaction with care delivered in the ICU will help develop interventions that are specific, targeted, and capable of sustaining change.

Objective: To determine the level of satisfaction family members experienced with the care received by their critically ill family member in the ICU, and identify areas for quality improvement.

Design: A descriptive survey was designed to determine the level of satisfaction family members experienced in the ICU.

Method: A validated questionnaire, known as the Family Satisfaction in the ICU (FS-ICU) survey, was administered to family members of a critically ill patient who remained in the ICU for ^48 hours.

Results: A total of 39 family members completed the FS-ICU 24-question survey. Overall in this ICU, families reported they were satisfied with the 72.24 (14.87) and felt included in the decision making around care 72.03, (16.61). In the open-ended questions, families indicated the nursing staff put them at ease and provided understandable explanations. They felt the ICU staff was skilled and competent. Families also provided some insight as to the importance of collaboration among o physicians and nurses, the need for consulting physicians to include the family in clinical discussions, and wanting timely information regarding any change in the patient’s condition. Families also reported that written communication, including directions and expectations, would have improved their experience.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggested family members were generally satisfied with the ICU experience. Areas for quality improvement include families being informed and included in discussions regarding the care of their loved one. Next steps will be the initiation of a nurse-led, evidence-based practice project examining best practices for facilitating family communication and decision making that can be implemented in the ICU.


A practice dissertation presented to the faculty of the School of Nursing, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Title on the cover and spine: Measuring family satisfaction in the ICU.

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