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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 76

of 'Palliative care: Issues in the intensive care unit in adults'

An evaluation of family-centered care services and organization of visiting policies in Belgian intensive care units: a multicenter survey.
Vandijck DM, Labeau SO, Geerinckx CE, De Puydt E, Bolders AC, Claes B, Blot SI, Executive Board of the Flemish Society for Critical Care Nurses, Ghent and Edegem, Belgium
Heart Lung. 2010 Mar;39(2):137-46. Epub 2009 Jul 22.
BACKGROUND: Admission in an intensive care unit (ICU) is a major cause of psychologic stress for the patient and the entire family, and liberalization of visitation has been shown to have a beneficial impact. However, despite the data available, practice has not changed much to incorporate these findings.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the visiting policies of Belgian ICUs.
METHODS: A descriptive multicenter questionnaire survey was prospectively conducted.
RESULTS: Fifty-seven ICUs completed the questionnaire (75.0%). All (100%) reported restricted visiting-hour policies, and limited numbers of visitors. Mean total daily visiting time was 69+/-33 minutes. The type of visitors was restricted to only immediate relatives in 11 ICUs (19.3%). Children were not allowed in 5 ICUs (8.8%), and 46 ICUs (80.7%) fixed an age limit for visiting. Thirty ICUs (52.6%) were providing families with information in a special room in addition to the waiting room, whereas 6 (10.5%) reported having no waiting room available, and 9 ICUs (15.8%) provided an information leaflet. A structured first family meeting at time of admission was organized in 42 ICUs (73.7%). A final family meeting at ICU discharge was planned in only 16 centers (28.1%).
CONCLUSION: Participating ICUs homogeneously reported restricted visiting policies regarding visiting hours and type and number of visitors. According to the evidence available, providing a plea for more liberal visitation, these results may be a first step toward reorganization of visiting policies in Belgian ICUs.
Department of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Dominique.Vandijck@UGent.be