Social representations of Intensive Care Unit as held by ICU patients´ families: the life-death thema

  • Galateia Georgiou Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Aphrodite Baka
  • Ioanna Soultati
Keywords: Intensive Care UNit


This paper discusses the findings of a socio-psychological qualitative study that examined the social representation that families of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients share about the ICU and the antinomic themes that constitute this representation. The sample consisted of thirteen people, eleven women and two men whose family members had been hospitalized in ICUs and had recovered or they were still being treated in an ICU during the interviewing period. Semi-structured interviews were conducted focusing on individual and family experiences of the ICU. The transcribed interviews were analysed quantitatively using thematic analysis. ICU representation was structured around both negative and positive themes and specifically the ICU representation was articulated around the antinomies of security/precariouseness and proximity/distance that were subsumed in the life/death thema. The implications of this representation for the support of ICU patients’ families and communication with the ICU patients and staff are discussed.

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