On April 21, PFCC held a collaborative conversation to provide input on a research project by Dr. Tom Valley. Dr. Valley is currently studying the causes of distress among family members of ICU patients. “We know that many family members of ICU patients have symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder that can last for months after leaving the ICU,” said Dr. Valley, “We want to see what types of things family members worry about in the ICU so we can then design interventions to improve the overall ICU experience.” Ten patients and family members attended, all of whom had experience in the UMHS ICU either as a patient or a family member.
When asked if they would be willing to participate in that type of research project, one advisor said it would be helpful to know who was going to benefit and how it would help others. Another advised that they conduct the questionnaire at least two days after their loved one is admitted to the ICU, giving families a chance to talk with the physicians, understand the patient plan, and get over the initial shock.
All said they would have participated if it could help their loved one or others, especially knowing that University Hospital is a teaching environment. In addition, the advisors raised some excellent questions: Can the interviewers take some remedial steps to help those in need? Can spiritual care come in for the families, as well as the patients? They also pointed out that it can take years for caregivers to heal from the trauma of having a loved one in the ICU.
Dr. Valley will interview 20 or so families in the ICU between July and Nov. His data should be available by next summer.