Treating patients and their family members with respect and dignity is a broadly accepted goal of health care. The work presented in this article is part of a larger project aimed at better understanding what constitutes treatment with respect and dignity in the ICU to improve the care that patients and family members receive in this regard. Direct observation was selected as one of the methods to facilitate this understanding because it provides the opportunity to see and document what actually occurs during encounters among patients, their families, and clinicians. This article reports seven major thematic domains and many subthemes that together create a detailed account of the interpersonal and environmental components of treatment with respect and dignity. Attention to these components might enhance the experience and treatment of patients and family members.
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