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Being transferred from an intensive care unit to a ward: Searching for the known in the unknown

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Forsberg A, Lindgren E, Engström Å. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2011; 17: 110–116

Being transferred from an intensive care unit to a ward: Searching for the known in the unknown

People who have been cared for in intensive care units (ICUs) are transferred between different levels of care and hospitals. The aim with this study was to describe peoples' experiences of being cared for in an ICU and transferred to a ward. An inductive, descriptive qualitative study was performed with qualitative individual interviews with 10 participants. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to qualitative thematic content analysis which resulted in one theme; searching for the known in the unknown, and five categories. The findings showed the importance of being prepared for the transfer and knowing what was going to happen. Some participants felt secure in the ICU and excluded on the ward, others appreciated leaving the stressful environment in the ICU for a more peaceful ward. Feelings of anxiety and exposure were experienced during the transfer and it was helpful if staff involved were known to the participants. Better information and patients' involvement concerning the transfer from ICUs to general wards are suggested as means of improving nursing care. Further studies are needed to improve continuity of care for critically ill people.

Keywords: experience; intensive care; qualitative thematic content analysis; transfer

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Doctoral Student, Division of Nursing, Department of Health Science, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden 2: Critical Care Nurse, Department of Intensive Care, Sunderby Hospital, Luleå, Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2011


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