“Empathy of Nurses and Family Needs in the ICU”

STTI Mu Lambda Chapter Nursing Research Forum 2007
“Empathy of Nurses and Family Needs in the ICU”
Jolene Tietz, RN, BSN
College of Allied Health and Nursing
School of Nursing
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mankato, MN, USA
Traditionally, patients have been the main focus of the nurse in the hospital setting.
Families have not always been recognized as important to the patient’s well-being. This method
of thought may detract from a holistic plan of care for the patient and family in the intensive care
setting. There has been much research focused on families of patients in the intensive care unit,
and what their needs are. There has also been plentiful research on the concept of empathy and
how empathy relates to nurses. However, there is little research that explores both of the abovementioned topics. Does nurse empathy impact how a family perceives their needs during a time
of crisis? Will an empathic nurse meet the needs of a patient’s family more completely than a
nurse with less empathy?
Multiple tools are available to study families, nurses, and empathy. The Critical Care
Family Needs Inventory is a tool that has been utilized in multiple studies regarding family needs
in the Intensive Care Unit. This tool, along with the Needs Met Inventory, and the BarrettLennard Empathy Scale will be employed to collect data pertaining to family needs, and nurse
empathy. My research proposal will attempt to study these concepts, and their possible
relationship to each other.