Purpose: To investigate possible psychological distress among staff after partial liberalization of visiting policies in intensive care units (ICUs). Methods: We surveyed eight Italian ICUs planning to increase daily visiting to at least 8 h. Participants completed the Maslach-Jackson Burnout Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory before policy change (T0), after 6 months (T1) and 12 months (T2). At T0 and T2, their opinions on the new policy were solicited. Analyses were adjusted for main known confounders (age, gender, centre, educational and marital status, experience in ICU, baseline level of burnout or anxiety, and mortality rate). Results: Baseline response rate was 89 % (230/258); 198 subjects (77 %) responded at T0 and T2, whereas 184 (71 %) participated in all three phases. High burnout levels were identified in 34.5 % of participants at T0 and 42.6 % at T2 (adjusted p = 0.001). All three phases showed a predominance of high burnout among nurses (adjusted p = 0.002). State and trait anxiety scores remained stable (adjusted p = 0.100 and 0.288, respectively). Most participants viewed the change positively at T0 (doctors 81.7 %; nurses 67.7 %) and T2 (doctors 87.0 %; nurses 62.7 %). At T2, 129 participants made comments (180 positive, 136 negative). Subjects with high burnout were more likely to comment negatively (p = 0.011). Conclusions: Partial liberalization of ICU visiting policies was associated over the course of a year with a small but significant increase in staff members' burnout levels. Nonetheless, doctors and nurses viewed the policy positively, maintaining this opinion after 1 year. Negative views were strongly correlated with burnout.
- Intensive care
- Visiting policies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine