The family is greatly affected when one member is admitted to a critical care unit. Critical care nurses are in an ideal position to help families cope with the crisis of a critical illness. Those who are knowledgeable of family member needs will provide more compassionate and effective nursing care to both the patient and family.

This study investigated the needs of family members of patients in the critical care unit and compared them to the critical care nurse's perception of those needs. The sample consisted of 55 critical care nurses and 51 family members of critically ill patients from a 350 bed southwestern private hospital.

The null hypothesis stated there would be no significant difference (p=.05) between identified family member needs and the nurses perception of family member needs in the critical care unit. The (CCFNI) Critical Care Family Needs Inventory was utilized as a research tool (Molter, 1976). The instrument consists of 44 family member need statements rated on a Likert scale from 1 (not important) to 4 (very important).

The study found that although some needs were ranked in the same order of importance by both family members and critical care nurses, most were not. However, calculation of mean values found both nurses and family members ranked "To have questions answered honestly" and "To be assured that the best care possible is being given to the patient" as the most important needs. Family members' emotional needs were found to be the least important in the first 72 hour period after the patient's admission to the critical care unit.

Chi Square analysis reflected significant differences in ranking of 23 needs at the .05 level. "To visit at any time," "To be told about someone that could help with family problems," "To talk about negative feelings such as guilt or anger," and "To know how the patient is being treated medically" had the greatest variation.

Further research would assist nurses in identifying primary family needs and aid families in coping with the crisis of critical illness, which may influence both patient outcome and family integrity.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Patricia S. Jones

Second Advisor

Karen L. Carrigg

Third Advisor

Jeanette R. Earnhardt

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Critical Care -- psychology; Crisis Intervention; Family



Page Count

vii; 65

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

Included in

Nursing Commons