People's experiences of being mechanically ventilated in an ICU: A qualitative study

Asa Engstrom, Natalie Nystrom, Gunilla Sundelin, Janice Rattray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    75 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: In previous studies people receiving mechanical ventilation treatment have described experiencing distress over their inability to speak and feelings such as anxiety. More research is needed to improve their experience in the intensive care unit and promote recovery. The aim of this study was to describe the intensive care unit experiences of people undergoing mechanical ventilation. Method: Qualitative, personal interviews were conducted during 2011 with eight people who were mechanically ventilated in an intensive care unit in the northern part of Sweden. Interview transcripts were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Findings: Two themes emerged, with four and three categories, respectively. Being dependent for survival on other people and technical medical equipment created a sense of being vulnerable in an anxious situation and a feeling of uncertainty about one's own capacity to breathe. Having lines and tubes in one's body was stressful. Being given a diary and follow-up visit to the intensive care unit after the stay were important tools for filling in the missing time, but there was also one participant who did not want to remember his stay in the intensive care unit. Conclusion: To be dependent on other people and technical medical equipment for survival creates a sense of being delivered into the hands of others, as the people being mechanically ventilated could not trust their body to function.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)88-95
    Number of pages8
    JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


    • Mechanical ventilation
    • Experiences
    • Nursing care
    • Interviews
    • Qualitative content analysis


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