Coping with Critical Acute Illness – Care Example

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"Coping with Critical Acute Illness" is a great example of a paper on care. For nursing staff, delivery of patient-centred care also involves offering assistance to patients and their significant others, especially with regards to their critical thinking skills required to achieve health literacy. In this case, the two critical thinking skills that patients diagnosed with critical acute illnesses will most likely need and use are information seeking and transforming knowledge. According to Garfield (2009), information and communication have become increasingly important in recent years in helping patients to cope with a diagnosis with a critical acute illness.

A diagnosis may invoke fear and uncertainty, which information seeking can help to alleviate. Majority of patients diagnosed with critical acute illnesses want to get information about their illness, although it is also recognized that there is a variation in the amount of information that different patients want, which may change as the illness progresses. Patient attitudes towards information are reflected, in their efforts, to obtain or resist further information given to them. Therefore, while these patients want information, there are complexities when it comes to helping them access this information (Garfield, 2009), which the nurse should be ready to help in. Garfield (2009) identifies four distinct profiles of patients diagnosed with critical acute illness with regards to information seeking.

The first is the stereotypical high-information seekers who generally have a high level of education, as well as the acquainted information seekers, who search for information because of their own motivation and their proximity to a patient diagnosed with an illness. Constrained information seekers usually come from low socio-economic classes and perceive themselves as having “ dropped out” of the healthcare system.

The general information seeker does not resort to information-seeking behaviour systematically. Garfield (2009) contends that following adjustment to the diagnosis, patients and their significant others are associated with an increased likelihood of taking part in the process of decision making, as well as with their state of health. Patients, as well as their significant others, also use the critical thinking skill of transforming knowledge, especially following information seeking. Today, the internet has become a critical information source concerning health issues, which has resulted in many people going online to get information if they feel that there are challenges in their life or the life of a significant other.

Yoshikawa and Norman (2010) argue that while mistrust of healthcare staff is not a predictor of reliance on online knowledge before medical visits, patients are more likely to seek out information on the internet if they do not understand or believe the information given by the nursing staff and physicians. In addition, where they feel that they have the knowledge or some level of control over their diagnosis, the patient and their significant others will seek to validate this information by searching for specific explanations (Yoshikawa & Norman, 2010). However, information from the internet does not usually replace traditional information sources, which is evidenced by patients and their significant others seeking to convert the condition of concepts learnt over the internet into their specific context (Yoshikawa & Norman, 2010).

This sees them join support groups, which healthcare staff must be aware of because the patients and their significant others will use the information given to them at these groups and combine them with information from the hospital to form knowledge.

In fact, most of them plan to ask the healthcare staff concerning the information they find. Some of them intend to also make requests from the nurses and physicians on the basis of knowledge formed by applying the information to their context and the context of significant others (Yoshikawa & Norman, 2010).


Garfield, C. A. (2009). Stress and survival: The emotional realities of life-threatening illness. St. Louis: Mosby.

Yoshikawa, T. T., & Norman, D. C. (2010). Acute emergencies and critical care of the geriatric patient. New York: M. Dekker.

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