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Memories of Delusions in ICU Include Fact, Fiction

Four themes identified in delusions: family, dynamic spaces, surviving challenges, and constant motion

hospital patient

TUESDAY, Aug. 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Memories of delusions in the intensive care unit are composed of a mixture of fact and fiction, and are not dependent on the presence of delirium, according to a study published online July 26 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Helle Svenningsen, R.N., Ph.D., from the VIA University College in Aarhus, Denmark, and colleagues describe the content of former intensive care unit patients' memories of delusions in a qualitative study using phenomenological hermeneutic analysis inspired by Ricoeur's interpretive theory. Patients were assessed for delirium in the intensive care unit with the Confusion Assessment Method of the Intensive Care Unit. After discharge, memories of delusions were described by 114 of 325 patients using the Intensive Care Unit Memory tool in face-to-face interviews after two weeks and in telephone interviews after two and six months.

The researchers identified four themes: the ever-present family, dynamic spaces, surviving challenges, and constant motion. Memories of delusions were a mix of fact and fiction, demonstrating shifts in time, place, and motion. Delusions were not dependent on the presence of delirium, as assessed by the Confusion Assessment Method of the Intensive Care Unit.

"Understanding patients' memories of delusions is beneficial to nurses caring for patients [who] are anxious, upset, or agitated," the authors write. "We recommend the provision of nurse-led intensive care unit follow-up enabling patients to describe and discuss their intensive care unit experiences."

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