Surviving ICU: Stories of recovery
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Blackwell Publishing Ltd
School of Nursing and Midwifery
The aim of this study was to investigate stories of recovery through the lens of intensive care unit (ICU) survivors.
Survival from ICUs is increasing, as are associated physical and psychological complications. Despite the significant impact on survivors, there is inadequate support provision in Australia and world‐wide for this population.
An interpretive biographical approach of intensive care survivors’ experiences of recovery.
Data were collected during 2014–2015 from diaries, face to face interviews, memos and field notes. Six participants diarized for 3 months commencing 2 months after hospital discharge. At 5 months, participants were interviewed about the content of their diaries and symbols and signifiers in them to create a shared meaning. Analysis of diaries and interviews were undertaken using two frameworks to identify themes throughout participants’ stories and provides a unique portrait of recovery through their individual lens.
Participants considered their lives had irreparably changed and yet felt unsupported by a healthcare system that had “saved” them. This view through their lens identified turmoil, which existed between their surface and inner worlds as they struggled to conform to what recovery “should be”.
The novel biographical methods provided a safe and creative way to reveal survivors’ inner thoughts and feelings. Participants’ considered creating their stories supported their recovery process and in particular enabled them to reflect on their progress. Findings from this study may lead to increased awareness among health care providers about problems survivors face and improved support services more broadly, based on frameworks appropriate for this population.