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Theoretical model of coping among relatives of patients in intensive care units: a simultaneous concept analysis


  • Ingrid Johansson PhD RN ANIC,

  • Cathrine Hildingh PhD RN RNT,

  • Stig Wenneberg PhD,

  • Bengt Fridlund PhD RNAN RNT,

  • Gerd Ahlström PhD RN

Ingrid Johansson,
Södraskog 2,
SE-574 74 Ramkvilla,


Aim.  This paper reports the development of a theoretical model of relatives’ coping approaches during the patient's intensive care unit stay and subsequent recovery at home by performing an analysis of concepts generated from two empirically grounded, theoretical studies in this area.

Background.  When supporting relatives of intensive care unit patients, it is important that nurses have access to evidence-based knowledge of relatives’ coping approaches during the period of illness and recovery.

Method.  Simultaneous concept analysis was used to refine and combine multiple coping concepts into a theoretical model of coping. The concepts were generated in two previous empirical studies of relatives’ coping approaches during mechanically ventilated patients’ intensive care unit stays and recovery at home.

Findings.  The theoretical model was developed in 2004–2005 and illustrates the effectiveness of different coping approaches in relation to each other and to social support. Definitions summarizing each coping approach and containing the knowledge gained through the simultaneous concept analysis method were also formulated.

Conclusion.  This middle-range theory of relatives’ coping approaches may make a valuable contribution to international intensive care unit nursing practice, especially as it is based on empirical studies and may therefore serve as a basis for the development of future clinical guidelines. However, the theoretical model needs to be empirically validated before it can be used.