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How caregivers view patient comfort and what they do to improve it: a French survey

Véronique Lombardo1, Isabelle Vinatier1, Marie-Lou Baillot1, Vicenta Franja1, Irma Bourgeon-Ghittori1, Sandrine Dray1, Sylvie Jeune1, Chirine Mossadegh1, Jean Reignier1, Bertrand Souweine1, Antoine Roch12* and Société de Réanimation de Langue Française (SRLF)

Author Affiliations

1 The Nurses’ board of the Société de Réanimation de Langue Française (SRLF), Paris, France

2 Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Nord, Bd Pierre Dramard, 13915 Marseille cedex 20, France

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Annals of Intensive Care 2013, 3:19  doi:10.1186/2110-5820-3-19

Published: 1 July 2013



Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are exposed to many sources of discomfort. Most of these are related to the patient’s condition, but ICU design or how care is organized also can contribute. The present survey was designed to describe the opinions of ICU caregivers on sources of patient discomfort and to determine how they were dealt with in practice. The architectural and organizational characteristics of ICUs also were analyzed in relation to patient comfort.


An online, closed-ended questionnaire was developed. ICU caregivers registered at the French society of intensive care were invited to complete this questionnaire.


A total of 915 staff members (55% nurses) from 264 adult and 28 pediatric ICUs completed the questionnaire. Analysis of the answers reveals that: 68% of ICUs had only single-occupancy rooms, and 66% had natural light in each room; ICU patients had access to television in 59% of ICUs; a clock was present in each room in 68% of ICUs. Visiting times were <4 h in 49% of adult ICUs, whereas 64% of respondents considered a 24-h policy to be very useful or essential to patients’ well-being. A nurse-driven analgesia protocol was available in 42% of units. For caregivers, the main sources of patient discomfort were anxiety, feelings of restraint, noise, and sleep disturbances. Paramedics generally considered discomfort related to thirst, lack of privacy, and the lack of space and time references, whereas almost 50% of doctors ignored these sources of discomfort. Half of caregivers indicated they assessed sleep quality. A minority of caregivers declared regular use of noise-reduction strategies. Twenty percent of respondents admitted to having non-work-related conversations during patient care, and only 40% indicated that care often was or always was provided without closing doors. Family participation in care was planned in very few adult ICUs.


Results of this survey showed that ICUs are poorly equipped to ensure patient privacy and rest. Access by loved ones and their participation in care also is limited. The data also highlighted that some sources of discomfort are less often taken into account by caregivers, despite being considered to contribute significantly.

Intensive care unit; Comfort; Survey; Organization; Opinions