Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Lina Hartocollis, PhD

Second Advisor

Ram Cnaan, PhD

Third Advisor

Jane Leske, PhD


This qualitative research study seeks an understanding of the experience and needs of family members of patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) at a large, metropolitan hospital. This study utilizes a self-developed, semi-structured interview, transitioning the findings of the The Critical Care Family Needs Inventory (CCFNI) (Molter, & Leske, 1983) into open-ended interview questions. The interviews query participants about their needs related to their family member’s stay in the ICU, their interactions with the health care team and any recommendations they wished to offer to family members of patients in the ICU and to the health care team. The twelve interviews were coded and the findings are reported using “issue focused” analysis as described by Weiss (1994). The interviews yield multiple needs of family members of patients in the ICU including the need for: communication, information, visitation, vigilance, assurance, and “realistic hope.” The interviews also reveal that the advice offered by the participants to both future family members of patients in the ICU and to the health care team caring for patients and families mirror their own indicated needs. Discrepancies in the findings, as well as in the “advice” offered, suggests additional research in this area is warranted. Additional research investigating interventions designed to meet the families’ needs and the role of social work in the ICU in meeting these needs is also indicated.