16 Jul Do Flexible Family Visitation Hours Reduce Delirium in ICU Patients?
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The debate about visiting policies in adult ICUs is of broad and current interest in critical care, with strong advocacy in favour of flexible family visitation models in order to promote patient- and family-centred care. However, the proportion of adult ICUs with unrestricted visiting hours is very low. Data from the literature show that 80% of hospitals in the United Kingdom and USA adopt restrictive ICU visiting policies. Among ICUs with restrictive visiting hours, published studies show that the daily visiting time ranges from a median of 1 hour in Italy to a mean of 4.7 hours in France. In agreement with this scenario, most adult ICUs in Brazil follow a restrictive visitation model, in which family members are allowed to visit the critically ill patient from 30 minutes to 1 hour, once or twice a day. These restrictive visitation models have been justified by the theoretical risks associated with unrestricted visiting hours, mainly infectious complications, disorganization of care, and burnout. Controversially, these risks have not been consistently confirmed by the scarce literature on the subject, and flexible ICU visiting hours have been proposed as a means to prevent delirium among patients and improve family satisfaction.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Disappointingly, studies evaluating the effectiveness and safety of flexible ICU visiting hours are scarce. To date, no large randomized trials have assessed the impact of a flexible visiting model on patients, family members, and ICU staff, and this evidence gap may constitute a barrier to the understanding of the best way to implement and improve ICU visiting policies
In the present pragmatic cluster-randomized crossover trial (The ICU Visits Study), we engaged 1,685 patients, 1,295 family members, and 826 ICU professionals from 36 adult ICUs in Brazil to compare a flexible visitation model (12 hours/day plus family education) vs. the standard restricted visitation model (median 90 minutes per day). We found that the flexible visitation did not significantly reduce the incidence of delirium among patients, but was associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and higher satisfaction with care among family members in comparison to the usual restricted visitation. Also, the flexible visitation did not increase the incidence of ICU-acquired infections and ICU staff burnout, which are major concerns when adopting this intervention.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Considering the evidence suggesting that most adult ICUs restrict the presence of family members, our results provide useful and relevant information that may influence the debate about current ICU visitation policies around the world. First, a flexible visitation policy that permits flexible family visitation in ICU (up to 12 hour per day) is feasible, given the high adherence of participant ICUs to implementation in The ICU Visits Study. Second, the flexible family supported by family education is safe regarding the occurrence of infections, disorganization of care or staff burnout. Third, family members – a commonly missing piece of the critical care puzzle – seem to benefit from the flexible visitation model through higher satisfaction with care and less symptoms of anxiety and depression.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research might focus on the following topics: 1) methods of implementation of flexible visiting models in ICUs; 2) Family support interventions in the context of flexible ICU visiting hours (e.g.: psychological and social support, support for shared decision making, peer support, and comfort); and 3) How flexible ICU visiting hours affects patient, family member and staff outcome at long-term.
The ICU Visits study was funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health through the Brazilian Unified Health System Institutional Development Program (PROADI-SUS).
Rosa RG, Falavigna M, da Silva DB, et al. Effect of Flexible Family Visitation on Delirium Among Patients in the Intensive Care Unit: The ICU Visits Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;322(3):216–228. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.8766
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