Durand Jones

Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


As more of our critical care treatments involve advanced technology and increasingly aggressive treatments, the inclusion and influence of family members and loved ones cannot be over looked. The interaction of a staff member with family members can greatly influence the family's perception of caring, compassion and competency. This interaction between family/loved ones and the staff members also can determine the stress level reported by family members during and after a family member has died. In seeking the best ways for staff members in interact with family members that will bring about the best stress reduction for the family, a review of current available literature was used to determine the most likely process to achieve this outcome

While the suggestions made by this paper can and should be utilized by all staff members in the health care team, a major focus will be the nurse's presence in regards to the family members. Familial stress can be reduced by a nurse's proximity to the patient, providing support and comfort to the family, and maintaining adequate information regarding the patient's condition, outcome and treatments. Some of these studies (Costea, 2011; Hickman & Douglas, 2010; Kentish-Bames, Chaize, Pochard & Azoulay, 2009; McAdan, Dracup, White, Fontaine & Puntillo, 20 IO; Melnechenko, 2003; Rabow, Hauser & Adams, 2004) determined that what is sought after by the family members is not always ready answers or tasks performance, but simply the availability of the staff member to the family members. This study is a review of current literature that involves staff members making their presence available and outlines the means for staff members to better reduce the stress levels of family members via this interaction. Presence has been defined by many authors in many ways, it is Godkin (2001) who says it most simply, "Presence means being available or open in a fashion that clients find meaningful." Thegoal of this project is to conduct a review of literature regarding the physical and emotional availability of staff to family members during a family member's death. This information will provide infonnation to develop a protocol for staff to follow to help decrease the stress experienced by these family members