Wive's perceptions of situational experiences during critical care hospitalization: A phenomenological study
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of wives whose husbands were hospitalized in critical care units. A convenience sample of eight wives was interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were audiotaped. Transcripts were analyzed for common themes using phenomenological essentials. A core category, situational uncertainty, and four process-oriented categories: vigilance, validation, mobilization, and seeking normalcy emerged.
Situational uncertainty described the experience of being in an ambiguous and unpredictable situation which left the wives helpless and without control. Uncertainty was dealt with by maintaining a watch (vigilance) and confirming findings and facts (validation). Internal and external resources were assembled and organized to manage the situation (mobilization). The ultimate goal of the experience was for life to return to a pre-illness state (seeking normalcy).
Findings indicate that multi-faceted strategies are needed to assist spouses in dealing with the critical illness experience. Spouses need consistent and accurate information from all health care providers, allowance of frequent visitation, and involvement in the mates' care. Resources such as social support, hope, and waiting areas warrant continual assessment for adequacy.