Clinician perceptions of the impact of ICU family visiting restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic: an international investigation.

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McPeake, Joanne 
Kentish-Barnes, Nancy 
Banse, Emilie 
Anderson, Lynne 
Cuzco, Cecilia 

PURPOSE: To guarantee the safety of the public, clinicians and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital visits were severely restricted internationally. There are limited data on the precise impact of these visiting restrictions on Intensive Care Unit clinicians. Our objectives therefore were to explore the impact of family visitation restrictions on clinicians and care delivery and describe innovation alongside areas for potential improvement. METHODS: A qualitative approach using focus groups was employed. We recruited members of the multi-disciplinary team from Spain, France and the UK. Framework analysis was used to synthesize and interpret data. RESULTS: In total, 28 staff from multiple international sites contributed to data across six focus groups: 12 from the UK, 9 from France and 7 from Spain. In relation to the key aims, we derived four themes: the emergence of new technologies, relationships and rapport establishment, communication challenges and end-of-life care provision. Across each theme, the overarching concepts of clinician emotional exhaustion and emotional distress emerged alongside the negative impact on job satisfaction. CONCLUSION: The impact of COVID-19 family visitation restrictions is far reaching. Future research should examine the wider impact of family presence in the ICU.


Funder: European Society of Intensive Care Medicine; doi:

Humans, Pandemics, COVID-19, Intensive Care Units, Focus Groups, Terminal Care, Family
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Crit Care
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
THIS Institute, University of Cambridge (PD-2019-02-16)