The communication experience of tracheostomy patients with nurses in the intensive care unit: A phenomenological study

Angela Tolotti, Annamaria Bagnasco, Gianluca Catania, Giuseppe Aleo, Nicola Pagnucci, Lucia Cadorin, Milko Zanini, Gennaro Rocco, Alessandro Stievano, Franco A. Carnevale, Loredana Sasso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To describe the experience and sources of comfort and discomfort in tracheostomy patients, when they communicate with nurses in the Intensive Care Unit. Research methodology/design: Benner's interpretive phenomenology. Data were collected through: a) semi-structured interviews conducted with the patients after leaving the intensive care unit; b) participant observation; c) situated interviews with intensive care nurses. Setting: The intensive care unit of a hospital in Northern Italy. Findings: Eight patients and seven nurses were included in this study. Two main themes were identified 1) feeling powerless and frustrated due to the impossibility to use voice to communicate; 2) facing continual misunderstanding, resignation, and anger during moments of difficulty and/or communication misunderstandings. The main communication discomfort factors were: struggling with not knowing what was happening, feeling like others had given up on me, living in isolation and feeling invisible. The main comfort factors were: being with family members, feeling reassured by having a call bell nearby and nurses’ presence. Conclusions: This study highlights the important role of communication in tracheostomy patients in intensive care and how closely it is linked to all the aspects of a person's life, which cannot be underestimated as just not being able to use one's voice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Comfort
  • Communication
  • Critical care
  • Discomfort
  • Experience
  • Intensive care
  • Interpretive phenomenology
  • Nurses
  • Patient
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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