Assistive communication tools could benefit more than half of patients in intensive care units (ICU) who are using ventilators to help them breathe, according to a new study co-funded by the INQRI program.
“Our findings challenge the commonly held assumption of many clinicians and
researchers that these patients are unable to communicate or participate in
their care,” INQRI grantee and study co-author Mary Beth Happ said
in a statement. Happ is a professor of nursing at The Ohio State University.
The study found that 53.9 percent of the patients screened met basic communication criteria and
could possibly benefit from the use of assistive communication tools and speech
language consultation, including such simple tools as notepads and pens.
“Establishing lines of communication is the first step in a patient being
able to make his or her needs known and have accurate symptom assessment and
management, and contributes to an overall better patient experience. We know
from interviews with patients who remember their critical care experience that
the inability to communicate is anxiety producing and, in some cases,
terrifying,” said Happ.
The study, which involved screening nearly 3,000 mechanically ventilated
patients over a two year period, appears in the January/February 2015 issue of
the journal Heart & Lung
and is co-authored with Happ’s colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh. The study is
co-funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Happ’s previous INQRI work includes the study “SPEACS2: Improving Patient Communication and Quality Outcomes in the ICU,” which
examined the value of a nurse-generated and nurse-led innovation by testing the
impact of a computer-based nurse communication training and materials program
(SPEACS-2) on intensive care unit patient care outcomes. The interdisciplinary
research team included Amber Barnato, who also co-authors Happ’s current research.