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The bodily presence of significant others: Intensive care patients’ experiences in a situation of critical illness

Author(s): Sven-Tore Dreyer Fredriksen | Tommy Svensson

Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being
ISSN 1748-2623

Volume: 5;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Phenomenology | hermeneutics | intensive care patients | critical illness | significant others

This study is about intensive care patients and the bodily presence of significant others. The aim of the study is to inquire and understand the patients experience of the body in relation to their significant others during critical illness. Open, unstructured, in-depth interviews with six former intensive care patients provide the data for the study. The phenomenological–hermeneutical analysis points to a theme among ICU patients’ experience of conflict between proximity and distance during the bodily presence of their relations. Patients experience different and conflicting forms of responses to the presence of their significant others. Patients experience significant positive confirmation but also negation through this presence. In the ICU situation, the reactions of significant others appear difficult to deal with, yet the physical presence is significant for establishing a sense of affinity. Patients seek to take some responsibility for themselves as well as for their relatives, and are met with a whole spectrum of reactions. Intensive care patients experience the need to be actively, physically present, which often creates sharp opposition between their personal needs and the needs of their significant others for active participation.
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