Post-hospital recovery trajectories of family members of critically ill COVID-19 survivors: an international qualitative investigation.
The immediate impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) visiting restrictions for family members has been well-documented. However, the longer-term trajectory, including mechanisms for support, is less well-known. To address this knowledge gap, we aimed to explore the post-hospital recovery trajectory of family members of patients hospitalised with a critical care COVID-19 admission. We also sought to understand any differences across international contexts. We undertook semi-structured interviews with family members of patients who had survived a COVID-19 critical care admission. Family members were recruited from Spain and the United Kingdom (UK) and telephone interviews were undertaken. Interviews were analysed using a thematic content analysis. Across the international sites, 19 family members were interviewed. Four themes were identified: changing relationships and carer burden; family health and trauma; social support and networks and differences in lived experience. We found differences in the social support and networks theme across international contexts, with Spanish participants more frequently discussing religion as a form of support. This international qualitative investigation has demonstrated the challenges which family members of patients hospitalised with a critical care COVID-19 admission experience following hospital discharge. Specific support mechanisms which could include peer support networks, should be implemented for family members to ensure ongoing needs are met.