OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to investigate ICU staff's perceptions of photographs displayed at the bedsides of unconscious patients and whether profession, years in ICU and work status had any influence on these perceptions.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: A cross-sectional study was used comprising a questionnaire with statements and one open-ended question. All registered nurses, enrolled nurses and anaesthetists working in one ICU in Sweden were included. A total of 85 participants returned a questionnaire (response rate=77%).
RESULTS: The findings of the study revealed that a photograph of the patient helped the ICU staff to relate to the patient as a person. Profession, years in ICU and work status had influence on the ICU staff's perceptions. From the content analysis two categories emerged: "getting closer and see the person" and "a landmark bringing hope".
CONCLUSION: The ICU staff need to consider how close to the patient they want to be and why the patient's recovery is worth striving for. Keeping a professional approach is one of the challenges of working in ICU. A photograph can be an inexpensive and easy way of preventing the loss of identity of the patient as an individual within the technocratic environments of the ICU.
2013. Vol. 29, no 4, 193-201 p.