Families of patients in the intensive care unit often experience sever stress. Understanding their experience is important for providing family-centered care during this difficult period. Little is known about the experience of families of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). To evaluate the prevalence and factors associated with acute stress symptoms among families of patients admitted to the ICU, we carried out a cross-sectional study at a teaching and advanced treatment hospital. The mean total Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) score differed significantly between planned and unplanned ICU admissions (t = 4.03, p < 0.05), indicating a main effect of admission type (F = 18.5, p < 0.05). There was no significant main effect of relationship (F = 0.05, p = 0.82) or interaction effect of admission type and relationship (F = 0.54, p = 0.47). Multiple regression analysis indicated that admission type was significantly associated with acute stress symptoms (B = 18.09, β = 0.47, p < 0.01), and explained 22% of the variance in total IES-R score. Whether a patient had a planned or unplanned admission to the ICU influenced symptoms associated with acute stress symptoms of family members more than did getting support from nurses, being the patient’s spouse, or the severity of illness of the patient.
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