The Effectiveness of ICU Nurses in Reducing Stress

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses are charged with the responsibility of providing healthcare to patients in the unit. Such services are essential since they provide an avenue through which patients can interact with their family members. Families of patients in the ICU suffer from physiological stress and anxiety arising from the fear of losing their loved ones who are usually in critical conditions. Communication between patients and their family members is usually important since it relieves the relatives from the stress that accompany such incidents. According to the different researches conducted in this field, relatives of the ill people have overwhelmingly cited lack of effective communication amongst them, health providers, and their patients as the key cause of their psychological suffering. The ICU nurses play a significant role in connecting the two parties. This paper will explore the effectiveness of the role of nurses in reducing fear and anxiety that is evident among family members of the ICU patients. The paper will analyze in details the role of ICU nurses in reducing stress and anxiety among relatives and family members of the ill patients. In addition, the paper will come up with a conclusion on whether nurses actually play an active role in reducing fear and anxiety among the aforementioned groups.

Patients in the ICU are either very ill or seriously injured and they require special attention (Olsen, Dysvik & Hansen, 2009). Healthcare providers in the ICU are highly trained professionals to save lives. Research indicates that family members and relatives who have their loved ones admitted in the ICU are at risk of suffering from stress and anxiety if proper and timely interventions are not made (Hye & Severinsson, 2010). Presumably, nurses are the most influential people in the ICU, and thus they are strategically placed to provide cancelling services to the family members in order to reduce the ensuing stress. In a bid to accomplish this important role, nurses should listen to the family members questions and provide timely and professional answers. Research indicates that good communication and involvement of family members in decision-making, in what is referred to as shared decision-making, help in fighting stress (McAdam & Puntillo, 2009). In addition, spiritual and professional counseling can go a long way in dealing with emotional discomforts that befall the relatives (Schaefer & Block, 2009). Family members involvement in making critical decisions regarding continuance or withdrawal of life support is important since it leads to reduced stress amongst patients since the outcomes are due to their own decisions (Kentish-Barnes, Lemiale, Chaize, Pochard, & Azoulay, 2009). Therefore, communication is crucial and it can only be availed by nurses. This paper looks into the effectiveness of nurses in reducing stress among family members with patients in the ICU.

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Communication and shared decision
Good communication between healthcare providers and relatives must be maintained throughout (., 2009). Nurses have the responsibility of ensuring that news of the ill patients is communicated to the family members in time. At times, hard decisions have to be made, for instance, on whether to . Such decisions are hard to make and they require the involvement of the family members. They must communicate with the family members in order to make informed decisions on whether to terminate the life of a patient (Schaefer & Block, 2009). Involving family members in making such decisions instills a feeling of inclusion in the decision-making process. This move makes the family members feel as part of the decision, and thus they are not affected by the outcome thereafter (Olsen et al., 2009). ICU healthcare professionals have the ability to tell if their efforts in treatment will help to save the life of the patient in question (McAdam & Puntillo, 2009). When it becomes apparent that the patient will pass on, family involvement is crucial at this point. The decision at this or withdrawal of the life supporting mechanism. At this point, palliative care is afforded to the patient. Palliative care involves providing comfort to the patient prior to his/her death. Family members often demand assurance that their patient is not going to suffer after the withdrawal of the (Hye & Severinsson, 2010). Nurses also reassure the family members that the decision is in the best interest of the patient (., 2009). Nurses provide this assurance and it is effective in reducing stress and anxiety amongst family members.

Spiritual interventions
Spirituality and culture are two important human traits and they have to be respected especially when involving ICU patients (Schaefer & Block, 2009). People have different religious and cultural beliefs that influence their decisions on certain issues. Most people belief in spiritual intervention during the hard times. Through regular interaction amongst nurses, patients, and the family members, nurses are in a position to determine when such interventions are necessary. In the event that the family members are emotionally affected by their patients illness, the nurses may invite religious leaders to do counseling to supplement the nursing efforts (McAdam & Puntillo, 2009). Nurses use informal means to determine when such interventions are required and make them available. Research indicates that such interventions are necessary and they produce effective results to believers (Olsen et al., 2009). Research also indicates that spiritual interventions encourage contribution in decision-making. Additionally, through such interventions, most people are in a position to make critical contributions after consultation with their respective spiritual leaders. Such spiritual consultations are most helpful when done in the last days of the patients life (Hye & Severinsson, 2010). Therefore, the role of nurses in providing professional and spiritual counseling cannot be ignored.


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