Aims and objectives. This study aimed to describe the significant others’ experiences and needs when a person is critically ill or injured in an acute care setting.
Background. Being a significant other to a hospitalised critically ill or injured patient is a heavily distressing life event. Addressing significant others’ needs adequately has been shown to be essential to mitigate the psychological consequences of such distressing events.
Design. A systematic review of qualitative research.
Methods. Meta-ethnographic synthesis was used for analysis.
Results. The key findings are described in five major themes: uncertainty and emotional ‘roller coaster’; information – balancing hope and reality; to guard and to protect the loved one; alliance with caregivers – crucial support; and social network – support and disequilibrium.
Conclusions. The study can provide a broader understanding of the significant others’ situation. They are facing an overwhelming and emotionally challenging situation and need to be seen and heard.
Relevance to clinical practice. The results point towards the nurses’ key position in handling the needs of the significant others. This kind of description might be helpful in taking on this delicate task and might also serve as a body of knowledge to influence clinical practice guidelines and nursing interventions in this field.