Objectives: Although ineffective communication is known to influence patient and family satisfaction with care in intensive care unit [ICU] settings, there has been little systematic analysis of the features of the perceived problem from a communication theory perspective. This study was undertaken to understand perceptions of miscommunication and the circumstances in which they present. Research methodology and design: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 health care professionals [HCPs] in five adult ICUs at an academic medical centre in the United States. Findings: From qualitative analysis of the transcribed interviews, four themes emerged, each containing multiple subthemes. Person factors are problems that originate within individuals, related to education, cultural background and emotion. Structural factors are associated with boundaries and coordination of institutional roles. Information management problems result from social and psychological processes by which HCPs and family members seek, distribute and understand information. Relationship management problems arise from difficulties in interpersonal interactions. Conclusions: Ineffective communication is not a single problem, but rather several distinct problems that exist at different levels of abstraction and vary in over-time stability. These findings provide a framework for designing interventions to improve the well-being of patients and family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-321
Number of pages7
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Critical Care


Dive into the research topics of 'ICU family communication and health care professionals: A qualitative analysis of perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this