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Temas em Psicologia

Print version ISSN 1413-389X


MONTEIRO, Mayla Cosmo; MAGALHAES, Andrea Seixas  and  MACHADO, Rebeca Nonato. Death on stage in the ICU: family facing terminal condition. Temas psicol. [online]. 2017, vol.25, n.3, pp. 1285-1299. ISSN 1413-389X.

The present study is part of a broader investigation with the purpose of investigating the repercussions of terminal conditions on the families of gravely ill patients hospitalized in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). The study used a qualitative clinical research methodology. Six family members of terminal patients admitted to the ICU of a medium-sized private hospital were interviewed. Five categories emerged from the analysis of the content of the interviews: perception of the illness and clinical progress; impact of admission to intensive care units; perception of the terminal condition; decision-making process; and relationship with the medical staff. This paper will present the first three categories, aiming to discuss the family members' perceptions and their emotional resources in the face of a terminal condition. Evidence shows that the imminent death of the patient generates great distress and suffering for relatives, causing intense experiences of helplessness. Family members used anticipatory mourning as a coping mechanism, allowing them to reassess their resources. Relatives also demonstrated resilient behavior, which was facilitated by social and familial support; the quality of the family-patient bond; the perception that the patient is not suffering; and the presence of religion or spirituality.

Keywords : Intensive Care Unit; family; terminal condition.

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