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Beleaguered by technology: care in technologically intense environments

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Modern technology has enabled the use of new forms of information in the care of critically ill patients. In intensive care units (ICUs), technology can simultaneously reduce the lived experience of illness and magnify the objective dimensions of patient care. The aim of this study, based upon two empirical studies, is to find from a philosophical point of view a more comprehensive understanding for the dominance of technology within intensive care. Along with caring for critically ill patients, technology is part of the ICU staff's everyday life. Both technology and caring relationships are of indispensable value. Tools are useful, but technology can never replace the closeness and empathy of the human touch. It is a question of harmonizing the demands of subjectivity with objective signs. The challenge for caregivers in ICU is to know when to heighten the importance of the objective and measurable dimensions provided by technology and when to magnify the patients’ lived experiences, and to live and deal with the ambiguity of the technical dimension of care and the human side of nursing.

Keywords: Heidegger; Ihde; intensive care; nursing; philosophy; technology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway 2: Centre for Acute and Critical Care (CACC), and 3: Centre for Lifeworld-led Education, School of Health Sciences and Social Work, Växjö University, Växjö, Sweden, and

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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