ICU Educational Resources Should be Patient Centered

Dec 01, 2017

Added to Collection

Multihospital task force recommends framework for digital learning centers for ICU patients and their families, according to article published in Critical Care Nurse

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Dec. 1, 2017 – Useful, real-time educational resources can help ease anxiety and aid in decision making for critically ill patients and their families during a hospital stay, but such materials are often not centrally located, easily accessible or designed to meet their need for meaningful information.

A task force with members from four large university teaching hospitals has developed a framework of basic educational content to address these issues and help meet the education needs of critically ill patients and their families in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Its recommendations for the content and structure of a patient-centered digital learning center are published in the December 2017 issue of Critical Care Nurse (CCN).

“Identifying Information Resources for Patients in the Intensive Care Unit and Their Families” outlines the study team’s process to collect educational content across the four hospitals, compile it into a database and analyze the current state of patient and family education in ICUs.

“A digital learning center will not replace the essential face-to-face communication updates that occur in clinical practice or cover all diseases or conditions,” said task force member Priscilla Gazarian, RN, PhD. She is a nurse scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor at the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Boston. “A core set of information generally applicable to all ICU patients and their families can be a resource for clinician-driven patient education.”

With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the four hospitals formed the Libretto Consortium with the goal of eliminating preventable harm in ICU’s and reducing unnecessary healthcare costs. In addition to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, consortium partners are Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore; and the University of California San Francisco. Together, they seek ways to meaningfully engage patients and families in a redesigned, supportive healthcare system.

As part of the consortium’s efforts, the hospitals formed a multisite task force to develop a framework for a web-based patient and family digital learning center. The interdisciplinary team led by Kumiko O. Schnock, RN, PhD, a nurse scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, consists of critical care nurses, physicians, medical librarians and patient family advisory council members from each hospital.

After collecting existing materials from each hospital and conducting a content gap analysis, the team developed a three-part framework of basic educational content for ICU patients and their families.

  • “ICU Arrival” includes information that assists patients and families in becoming familiar with the ICU environment, including an arrival checklist, welcome guide, introduction of the care team and an overview of a typical day in the ICU, with information on rounding and family meetings.
  • “Understanding the ICU and Partnering in Care” contains materials about the patient room, commonly used equipment, patient safety, potential complications and condition-specific resources.
  • “ICU Transitions” addresses the transition from the ICU, ranging from transfer to a rehabilitation setting to a hospice. This category includes comfort-focused care in the ICU when a patient does not get better.

“We wanted to present the materials in a way that mirrored the patient’s experience and information needs during their time in the ICU,” Gazarian said. “A web-based platform would allow patients to access important information on demand according to their readiness and needs.”

The gap analysis also revealed the need for new materials about important information frequently provided to patients and their families, such as family members in the ICU, ICU noises and hospice care.

The task force will continue its work to validate its recommendations, expand development of a digital learning library and better understand how the information pathway can affect patient outcomes.

As the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ bimonthly clinical practice journal for high-acuity, progressive and critical care nurses, CCN is a trusted source of information related to the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients.

Access the article abstract and full-text PDF by visiting the CCN website at

About Critical Care Nurse: Critical Care Nurse (CCN), a bimonthly clinical practice journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides current, relevant and useful information about the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients. The award-winning journal also offers columns on traditional and emerging issues across the spectrum of critical care, keeping critical care nurses informed on topics that affect their practice in high-acuity, progressive and critical care settings. CCN enjoys a circulation of more than 107,000 and can be accessed at

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 200 chapters in the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;