Respect and dignity are central to moral life, and have a particular importance in health care settings such as the intensive care unit (ICU). We conducted 15 semistructured interviews with 21 participants during an ICU admission to explore the definition of, and specific behaviors that demonstrate, respect and dignity during treatment in the ICU. We transcribed interviews and conducted thematic qualitative analysis. Seven themes emerged that focused on what it means to be treated with respect and/or dignity: treated as a person; Golden Rule; acknowledgement; treated as family/friend; treated as an individual; treated as important/valuable; and treated as equal. Participants described particular behaviors or actions that were considered related to demonstrating treatment with respect and dignity: listening; honesty/giving information; attention to body/modesty/appearance; caring/bedside manner; patient and family as an information source; attention to pain; and responsiveness. These behaviors provide a framework for improving experiences with care in the ICU.
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