Communication with critically ill patients


  • Jafar Alasad PhD RN,

  • Muayyad Ahmad PhD RN

Jafar Alasad,
Department of Clinical Nursing,
University of Jordan,
Amman 11942,


Aim.  This paper reports a study that investigated the experiences of a group of critical care Jordanian nurses concerning verbal communication with critically ill patients.

Background.  There is evidence that communication in critical care settings is not sufficiently implemented in practice. Inadequate nurse–patient communication results in increased levels of stress and anxiety. Verbal communication can help patients preserve their self-identity and self-esteem, which in turn will enhance their well-being and optimism.

Method.  The study was guided by the phenomenological hermeneutics of Heidegger. Data were generated in 2002 from in-depth interviews and overt participant observation, and analysed qualitatively.

Findings.  Unconscious patients received less verbal communication and interaction than verbally responsive patients.

Conclusion.  Communication with sedated or unconscious patients in intensive care units should not be viewed as only an interactive process. Rather, it should be perceived as the means to give the information and support that such patients need.