Factors associated with family satisfaction in the adult intensive care unit: A literature review

Published:September 14, 2021DOI:



      The objective of this study was to identify and summarise factors associated with family satisfaction among family members of adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

      Review methods/data sources

      A search was conducted from inception to October 2020 in the following databases: PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, ProQuest Health Management, PsycINFO, LILACS, and SciELO. Studies reporting the questionnaire's items or dimensions as family satisfaction factors, studies dichotomising family satisfaction outcome, and those involving family members of neonatal, paediatric, palliative, and end-of-life patients were excluded. Quality of the studies was examined through a modified approach to the Consolidated Standards for Reporting Trials (CONSORT). Reported factors were classified as family member, patient, or provider/organisation related.


      The search yielded 26 articles reporting factors associated with family satisfaction in the ICU. Regarding study quality, 19.2% were classified as high-quality studies. Family member–related variables such as educational level, gender, and kinship to the patient showed divergent associations with family satisfaction. Within patient-related variables, the severity of illness was positively associated with family satisfaction. Factors related to healthcare providers and organisations were reported only in 26.9% of the studies.


      A broad number of factors associated with family satisfaction in the ICU were found in this review. However, few nonmodifiable factors related to the family members and the patient showed a significant and consistent association with family satisfaction. Evidence on factors related to healthcare providers was scarce. Gaps in knowledge regarding family satisfaction in the ICU, including methodological issues that impair the validity of the findings, were identified. Future studies should address these limitations to accurately identify factors that impact family satisfaction in the ICU.


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