Children’s experiences of a parent’s stay in ICU

Added July 20, 2020

Citation: MacEachnie LH, Larsen HB, Egerod I. Children’s and young people’s experiences of a parent’s critical illness and admission to the intensive care unit: A qualitative meta-synthesis. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2018 Aug;27(15-16):2923-32.

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What is this? Some people with COVID-19 will become seriously ill and need treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU). Existing research on the psychological and psychosocial burden on children and young people of their parent’s admission to ICU might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this qualitative evidence synthesis, the authors searched for qualitative studies describing the experience of children (<18 years) during the illness trajectory of a parent in the ICU. They restricted their searches to articles published in English between 2006 and 2016. They included 6 studies, which were from Scotland (2 studies), Sweden (2) and the USA (2).

What was found: The experience of having a critically ill parent in the ICU is overwhelming and unfamiliar for children. It leads to feelings of insecurity and uncertainty about the parent-child relationship.

Children are often overlooked as close family members of the patient, leaving them to feel ignored and excluded from their parent’s care. This makes them feel sad, powerless and lonely.


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