The intensive care unit family meeting: Making it happen

Elizabeth B. Gay, Peter J. Pronovost, Rick D. Bassett, Judith E. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The intensive care unit (ICU) family meeting is an important forum for discussion about the patient's condition, prognosis, and care preferences; for listening to the family's concerns; and for decision making about appropriate goals of treatment. For patients, families, clinicians, and health care systems, the benefits of early and effective communication through these meetings have been clearly established. Yet, evidence suggests that family meetings still fail to occur in a timely way for most patients in ICUs. In this article, we address the "quality gap" between knowledge and practice with respect to regular implementation of family meetings. We first examine factors that may serve as barriers to family meetings. We then share practical strategies that may be helpful in overcoming some of these barriers. Finally, we describe performance improvement initiatives by ICUs in different parts of the country that have achieved striking successes in making family meetings happen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629.e1-629.e12
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Family meetings
  • Intensive care
  • Quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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