'I've never been surrounded by so many people and felt so alone' : A Heideggerian phenomenological study investigating patients' experiences of technology in adult intensive care

Research Question: What are patients’ experiences of technology in adult intensive care? Research Objectives: -To explore patients’ perceptions of receiving care in a technological environment -To explore patients’ perceptions of how technology has influenced their experience of care Background: Technology is fundamental to the physical recovery of critically ill patients in intensive care (ICU), however, there is a suggestion in the literature that its presence may dehumanise patient care and distract the nurse from attending to patients’ psychosocial needs. Little attention has been paid to patients’ perceptions of receiving care in a technological environment. The purpose of this research, therefore, was to explore patients’ experiences of technology and care within ICU. Methods: This study was informed by Heideggerian phenomenology. The research took place in a university hospital in England. Nineteen participants who had been a patient in ICU were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed utilising Van Manen’s framework. Findings: Resulting themes were ‘My Useless Body’ which describes how participants experienced their body as dysfunctional, disconnected and invaded by technology, ‘Making Sense of It’, which describes how participants rationalised their experiences by constructing a story, and ‘Technology and Care’, which describes how and why participants endured technologies in ICU. Conclusions: The disintegrated body is central to the critically ill’s experiences in ICU. Families play an important role in helping patients make sense of their experiences by filling in gaps in memory and helping them to sort the real from unreal memories. Families therefore require support and information resources in fulfilling this role. Patients experience technology and care as a series of paradoxical relationships: alienating yet reassuring, uncomfortable yet comforting, impersonal yet personal. Nurses maintaining a close and supportive presence and providing personal comfort and care may minimise the invasive and isolating potential of technology
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