In the article “Critical Care Visitation: Nurse and Family Preference,” authors Hart, Hardin, Townsend, and Mahrle-Henson (2013) conduct a satisfaction study regarding visitation policies in critical care/intensive care units at a hospital in the southeastern United States. The purpose of this paper is to critique this article on various aspects.
In regard to the study limitations, the authors do not explicitly identify any limitations. Self-evident limitations would include the fact that only one hospital was studied, in one geographical location. In addition to that, the study only provided demographics on nurses, not the families as well. However, the authors did not state these limitations or any at all.
The focus on family members and nurses made the population rather general at the outset. The study focused on critical care/intensive care patients, their families, and the nurses who serve that patient population. The study’s findings can be applied to those populations.
The study does explicitly state implications for nursing practice. The authors conclude that policies regarding family member visitation for ICU patients needs to be more flexible and transparent. To that end, tailored visitation plans for families seem the best solution, according to the authors. Another solution would be extending the visitation period from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Another solution involves developing family-centered care problems that actively take into consideration the varying needs (and schedules) of families. Employing critical care nurses who are also family care specialists is also recommended.
As far as further studies go, the authors made no recommendations in that regard. This reviewer would have recommended follow-up to see if implemented suggestions affected families’ and nurses of satisfaction regarding visitation policies and periods.
In evaluating this article, this reviewer does find the article useful. The focus on compassionate care and accommodating the unique needs of families shows consideration for the patients and their families and the fact that an individual’s illness or injury affects more than the individual. Furthermore, the qualitative approach (that is, soliciting the participants’ perspectives) provides researchers and clinicians alike with insight to the thought processes that form the respective opinions of the studied populations. Furthermore, the clinical implications were very clear and seemed very reasonable. These elements represent the strengths of this article. However, this article didn’t seem to take explicitly into consideration elements like socio-culture factors that may influence opinions or affect families’ abilities to visit. Furthermore, the lack of limitations and no recommendations for future studies show a lack of awareness regarding how research should be constructed and how current research can inform future research; it’s almost arrogant, as though the study thinks it’s figured out THE answer to a significant concern. These elements form the weaknesses of the article.
This study’s findings appear to be consistent with prior research. This study does indicate where its findings reflect or agree with previous findings. The results and implications both reflect thinking that is in line with nursing research and values.
This reviewer has some confidence in the findings. They were acquired and calculated in accordance with appropriate nursing research methods. They are presented clearly and are easy to understand. However, the authors themselves undermine full confidence. They write: “Results of this study are somewhat difficult to interpret because of the mixed results of family participants” (Hart et al., 2013, p. 296). This casts doubt on the authors’ interpretations of the findings, undermining the final overall impact of the article. This is further complicated by some of the aforementioned weaknesses in the article, namely the lack of limitations and further study.