, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1060-1065
Date: 24 Mar 2007

Beliefs and attitudes of intensive care nurses toward visits and open visiting policy

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To describe the beliefs and attitudes of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses toward visiting, visiting hours, and open visiting policies in critical care settings.


A descriptive, cross-sectional, multicenter survey.


Seventeen hospitals in Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium), including 30 ICUs. Sixteen mixed adult medical/surgical ICUs, three medical ICUs, five surgical ICUs, three coronary care units, two post-cardiac surgery ICUs, and one burn unit.


A total of 531 intensive care nurses.

Measurements and results

We devised a questionnaire comprising 20 items assessing beliefs and 14 items assessing attitudes. Nurses indicated their level of agreement for each statement on a five-point rating scale. Nurses believed that open visiting hampers planning of adequate nursing care (75.2%), interferes with direct nursing care (73.8%), and causes nurses to spend more time in providing information to the patients' families (82.3%). The presumed effects of visits on the patients and families were contradictory. Most nurses (75.3%) did not want to liberalize the visiting policy of their unit.


ICU nurses have rather skeptical beliefs and attitudes toward visiting and open visiting policy. This suggests that the culture at Flemish ICUs is not ready for a drastic liberalization of the visiting policy.