Psychosocial issues in acute care| Volume 38, ISSUE 3, P217-227, May 2009

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Coping by relatives of critical care patients


      To describe the coping strategies used by the relatives of patients hospitalized in an intensive care unit.


      This is a descriptive study that uses a convenience sample and both qualitative and quantitative methods. The study was conducted at a tertiary university hospital in Brazil. Participants included 41 relatives who were selected during the first 96 hours of patient hospitalization in the intensive care unit.


      The participants reported that they more frequently used Coping Strategies Based on the Stressor, followed by Religiosity/Fantasy Thinking and Seeking for Social Support. There was a statistically significant relationship (P < .01) between the use of the strategy Seeking for Social Support and elevated Acute Physiology, Age, and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores. Qualitative analysis allowed a clearer understanding of the relation between the patient's condition and changes in the coping strategies used by the patient's relatives.


      This study describes the coping strategies used by patients' relatives during the early hospitalization period. This investigation allowed for a better understanding of the relatives' psychologic aspects and their relation with the patient's clinical condition. The results shall assist the design of specific interventions directed at facilitating positive coping responses on the part of relatives.
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