Context: Keepsakes are a relatively unexplored form of bereavement support that is frequently provided as part of the 3 Wishes Project (3WP). The 3WP is a palliative care intervention in which individualized wishes are implemented in the adult intensive care unit for dying patients and their families.
Objectives: We aimed to characterize and enumerate the keepsakes that were created as part of the 3WP, and to understand their value from the perspective of bereaved family members.
Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of family interviews during a multi-center study on the 3WP and characterized all wishes that involved keepsakes. Sixty interviews with family members regarding the 3WP were re-analyzed using qualitative analysis to identify substantive themes related to keepsakes.
Results: Of 730 patients, 345 (47%) received keepsakes as part of their participation in 3WP. The majority of keepsakes were either tangible items that served as reminders of the patient’s presence (thumbprints, locks of hair) or technology-assisted items (photographs, word clouds). The median cost per keepsake wish was $8.50 (IQR $2.00-$25.00). Qualitative analysis revealed two major themes: 1) Keepsakes are tangible items that are highly valued by family members, and 2) The creation of the keepsake with clinical staff is valued and viewed as a gesture of compassion.
Conclusion: Keepsakes are common wishes that clinicians in the ICU are able to provide and sometimes co-create with families when patients are dying. Both the offering to create the keepsake and receipt of the final product are perceived by family members as helpful.
Background: End-of-life (EOL) care is an important aspect of practice in the intensive care unit (ICU), where approximately one of every five patients may die.
Objective: The objective of this study was to describe clinicians' experiences with the 3 Wishes Project (3WP) and understand the influence of the project on care in the ICU.
Design: The 3WP is a palliative care intervention in which clinicians elicit and implement final wishes for patients dying in the ICU; it had been implemented for seven months at the time of this study. This mixed-methods study includes quantitative data from clinician surveys and qualitative data from clinician focus groups.
Setting: A 24-bed medical ICU in a tertiary academic center.
Subjects: Perspectives of 97 clinicians working in the ICU during the study period were obtained by self-administered surveys. Five focus groups with 25 nurses and 5 physicians were held, digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed.
Measurements and Results: During the 7-month period, 67 decedents and their families participated in the 3WP. The overarching concept identified through analysis of the survey and focus group data is that the 3WP improves EOL care in the ICU, which was supported by three main themes: (1) The 3WP facilitates meaningful EOL care; (2) The 3WP has a positive impact on nurses and physicians; and (3) clinicians observe a positive influence of the 3WP on families.
Conclusions: This patient-centered and family-partnered intervention facilitates meaningful EOL care, favorably impacting the ICU team and positively influencing family members.