What do family members of patients in emergency care settings experience?

Addressing gaps and guiding future clinical trials in emergency research settings through Strategies to Innovate EmeRgENcy Care Clinical Trials Network (SIREN)


Family members’ experiences in the emergency department and intensive care unit (ICU) following a loved one’s critical illness or injury and the impact of these experiences on family member and patient outcomes are not well understood.

The Strategies to Innovate EmeRgENcy Care Clinical Trials Network, known as SIREN, aims to conduct  a robust exploration of existing knowledge and knowledge gaps related to the experiences of family members of victims of cardiac arrest and severe neurotrauma, focusing on the early days following the patient’s incident.

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) fund SIREN.

Westat is supporting the University of Michigan, the Clinical Coordinating Center for SIREN, in research to improve outcomes in these settings.


Westat conducted a sequential, qualitative mixed-methods study, including interview-based data collection and analysis, and the convening of a multi-stakeholder workshop to capture the following information:

  • Family members’ needs in the first 48 hours after the patient’s hospitalization
  • How these needs are addressed by hospital staff and institutions
  • How to better address family members’ needs


Through this collaborative effort, we learned that family members need:

  • To know how to acquire and process information regarding their loved one’s condition and prognosis
  • Emotional support such as sensitivity and compassion from the care team
  • To have their sociocultural and physical needs met during this traumatic time

These findings will help to address gaps and guide future clinical trials in emergency research settings.


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