Author(s): Thi Huong Mai, Thi Hoa Duong, Anna-Lena Hellström
Introduction: Children need intensive care in the first days after open-heart surgery. In some hospitals visits to Intensive Care Units (ICU), are not allowed, even by parents. Aim: The study aimed to illuminate the experiences of children and parents regarding permission or not to visit the ICU. Subjects and Methods: Twenty children aged between 8 and 15 years with planned open-heart surgery, together with their parents, were chosen consecutively to participate in the study. They were divided into two groups. Group 1, followed the routine with no visits by parents allowed to the ICU. Group 2 were allowed such visits. Data were collected through open interviews with parents and children, following an interview guide. Results “Missing” was the overall theme illustrated in the findings, with two major categories; “being seen” and “taking care” being developed. The parents trusted the expert knowledge of the medical staff but Missing was strongly expressed and influenced the feelings within the categories in Group 1. Parents felt they were not seen and the lack of information made them anxious, frightened and feel they were losing control over their parenthood. They asked to see their children only briefly to allay their fears. They knew their children’s needs and thought they could help by taking care of practical issues to improve their well-being. All children in this group felt sad and abandoned. The families in Group 2 felt happy and confident despite not being allowed to stay with children all the time. The parents felt included in their care, which had a positive effect on the children.
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