Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1071–1079 | Cite as

Family satisfaction in the intensive care unit: a quantitative and qualitative analysis

  • Daniel Schwarzkopf
  • Susanne Behrend
  • Helga Skupin
  • Isabella Westermann
  • Niels C. Riedemann
  • Rüdiger Pfeifer
  • Albrecht Günther
  • Otto W. Witte
  • Konrad Reinhart
  • Christiane S. HartogEmail author



To assess family satisfaction in the intensive care unit (ICU) and areas for improvement using quantitative and qualitative analyses.


Prospective cohort study performed in four (mixed surgical, neurological, and cardiological) intensive care units of a university hospital in Germany, using a translated and validated version of the Family Satisfaction in the ICU (FS-ICU) questionnaire, with questions answerable on a rating scale and three open-ended questions about strengths and weaknesses. Quantitative analysis was performed to identify items with low performance and high importance. For qualitative analysis, comments were coded and analyzed to identify important themes. Patient-related data were obtained from an electronic patient data management system.


Participants were 215 family members visiting adult intensive care patients with length of stay over 48 h. Response rate was 28 %. Respondents were highly satisfied; summary scores were 78.3 ± 14.3 [mean ± standard deviation (SD)] on a scale of 0 (poor) to 100 (excellent). Regression analysis failed to identify association with patient- or family-related factors. The following themes for possible improvement emerged from both quantitative and qualitative analyses: patient agitation—consistency, clarity and completeness of information—emotional support—respect and compassion towards families. Families were also dissatisfied with the waiting room, ICU atmosphere, and amenities for visiting relatives.


Families report high satisfaction with intensive care. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement, in particular regarding how ICU staff communicate with families and provide emotional support.


Family satisfaction Quality Communication Critical care Qualitative study 



The CSCC is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany, FKZ: 01EO1002.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

134_2013_2862_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Schwarzkopf
    • 1
  • Susanne Behrend
    • 2
  • Helga Skupin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Isabella Westermann
    • 2
  • Niels C. Riedemann
    • 2
  • Rüdiger Pfeifer
    • 3
  • Albrecht Günther
    • 4
  • Otto W. Witte
    • 4
  • Konrad Reinhart
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christiane S. Hartog
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Integrated Research and Treatment Center, Center for Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC)Jena University HospitalJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine and Integrated Research and Treatment Center, Center for Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC)Jena University HospitalJenaGermany
  3. 3.Department for Internal Medicine IJena University HospitalJenaGermany
  4. 4.Department for NeurologyJena University HospitalJenaGermany

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