Patients (n = 158) who had been respirator-treated and who could remember the treatment were retrospectively (after >2 months) interviewed about their experiences. Of all patients. 47% had felt anxiety and/or fear during the treatment. These feelings were intimately related to the experience of agony/panic (p < .001) and insecurity (p < .001). Inability to talk and communicate was found to be the dominating reason (p < .001) for evoking such feelings and also made it difficult for the patients to sleep and rest (p < .05); no correlation to pain was found. Difficulties to synchronize with the respirator in connection with suctioning also caused feelings of anxiety/fear (p < .01). agony/ panic (p < .01), and insecurity (p < .001). Even as long as 4 yr after respirator treatment, most patients (90%) who remember the treatment still recall the situation as unpleasant and stress-evoking. The isolation due to communication difficulties was a greater problem than direct airway-related nursing care activities. This relationship between communication difficulties and severe emotional reactions should be considered in the nursing care of respirator-treated patients. (Crit Care Med 1989; 17:1068)
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