Making sense of it: The ICU experience. A participant observation-patient centered study
Nursing defines its role as the treatment of patient's responses to health problems. If patient's responses are a function of the meanings from these experiences, nursing care can be tailored to the critically ill only if the nurse can link an individual's meaning with response as patients float in and out of levels of consciousness. However, a dearth of information exists investigating this phenomena.^ This study described how patients make sense of their ICU experience, the content of this process, resultant responses and factors which affected process, content, and patient responses. The theoretical framework blended neurophysiological and symbolic interaction perspectives.^ The participant observation included interviewing and case study approach with intra-case, inter-case and inter-group analysis. Nine patients were followed twice daily through their ICU stays. Follow-up interviewing ensued.^ Patients responded in phylogenetically, hierarchically ordered information processing modes. Making sense was tied to factors affecting patient level of consciousness such as drugs and acuity of illness. Based on Glascow Coma Scale (GCS), three groups emerged: "non-alerts" (GCS $<$ 9), "ins and outs" (GCS 3-14), and "alerts" (GCS 13-15).^ Below a GCS score of 9, thinking was nonexistent. At 9 to 12, thinking was limited to "here and now" with no active defining. Responses were essentially physiological. From 13 to 15, defining transpired characterized by self-interaction or symbolic interaction. Movement from self- to symbolic interaction was affected by time orientation, exhaustion, environmental awareness and interactional factors. Defining processes existed isolated from patients.^ Content included physiological and psychosocial concerns. Embedded were non-crisis orientation, spiritual, and family based meanings. Patients delimited progress differently from staff and family. Post-ICU memory was scant.^ Content demarcated a meaning typology transcending group membership. The classification was spatiotemporally dependent, moving from physiologically-based patient concerns to environmental awareness to future orientation. Transition times were individualistic.^ Symbolic interaction had limited but useful explanatory power. Recommendations included facilitation of mutual defining among staff, family and patient and tailoring of nursing care to emergent meanings, physiological and psychological patient responses. ^
Health Sciences, Nursing
Paula Tripp Lusardi,
"Making sense of it: The ICU experience. A participant observation-patient centered study"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).