When Distance is an Act of Love: Exploring the Use of Video Diaries for Family Members of Intensive Care Patients


Due to Covid-19, intensive care (ICU) patients are not allowed visitors or have severely restricted visiting. After being admitted to ICU most patients are unconscious or extremely weak and therefore cannot speak on a phone or video call to a family member. Before these visiting restrictions, family members of patients admitted to ICU as a result of being critically ill were already known to suffer significant psychological distress and may now face increased distress given they are unable to visit a loved one. Previous research demonstrates that keeping a paper diary has been found to be helpful for ICU patients and families. When lockdown measures were announced, NHS Scotland introduced video diaries as an emergency measure to try to support communication with families and reduce distress. vCreate is an NHS Trusted secure video messaging service that helps patients, families and clinical teams stay connected throughout their care journey. The use of video diaries may have a positive impact for family members but there is a risk that they could also have negative effects for some people. There is a need to explore both ICU healthcare professionals and family members' experiences of using video diaries. At the same time it is also important to test the feasibility and acceptability of measures of distress and psychological well-being on family members during and after their experience of video diaries. In doing so, some initial recommendations about video diaries can be made and a larger subsequent study planned to test their effect on family members and healthcare professionals.

Study Type

  • Study Type: Observational
  • Study Design
    • Time Perspective: Prospective
  • Study Primary Completion Date: April 30, 2021

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Healthcare professionals
    • No intervention. Gathering data on their experiences of using video diaries.
  • Family members of ICU patients
    • No intervention. Gathering data on their experiences of using video diaries.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Qualitative experiences
    • Time Frame: 3 months
    • The principal aim of this study is to explore the experiences of family members and healthcare professionals in using video diaries during the lockdown and no/very restricted hospital visiting.

Secondary Measures

    • Time Frame: 3 months
    • (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale) is a tool that measures psychological well-being.
    • Time Frame: 3 months
    • CORE-OM (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure) is a self report of a non-proprietary, pan-theoretical (not allied to any particular modality) measure of global psychological distress.
  • Daily Distress Thermometer
    • Time Frame: 3 months
    • The Daily Distress thermometer is an adaptation of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer and Problem list.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • (i) Family Members in Lothian aged ≥16 years receiving a video diary for an ICU patient who stays in ICU for ≥24 hours or more. If the patient dies, family members will be invited to continue in the study. (ii) ICU healthcare staff in NHS Lothian who have experience of using the video diary to support family members during lockdown. Exclusion Criteria:

Prisoners Family members lacking capacity to consent Family members aged under 16 years

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 16 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • University of Edinburgh
  • Collaborator
    • NHS Lothian
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Sheila Rodgers, Senior Lecturer – University of Edinburgh
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Sheila Rodgers, PhD, 0131650100, v1srodg3@ed.ac.uk

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