Background: Admission into an intensive care unit (ICU) may result in long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional consequences for patients and their relatives. The care of the critically ill patient does not end upon ICU discharge; therefore, integrated and ongoing care during and after transition to the follow-up ward is pivotal. This study described the development of an intervention that responds to this need. Methods: Intervention Mapping (IM), a six-step theory- and evidence-based approach, was used to guide intervention development. The first step, a problem analysis, comprised a literature review, six semi-structured telephone interviews with former ICU-patients and their relatives, and seven qualitative roundtable meetings for all eligible nurses (i.e., 135 specialized and 105 general ward nurses). Performance and change objectives were formulated in step two. In step three, theory-based methods and practical applications were selected and directed at the desired behaviors and the identified barriers. Step four designed a revised discharge protocol taking into account existing interventions. Adoption, implementation and evaluation of the new discharge protocol (IM steps five and six) are in progress and were not included in this study. Results: Four former ICU patients and two relatives underlined the importance of the need for effective discharge information and supportive written material. They also reported a lack of knowledge regarding the consequences of ICU admission. 42 ICU and 19 general ward nurses identified benefits and barriers regarding discharge procedures using three vignettes framed by literature. Some discrepancies were found. For example, ICU nurses were skeptical about the impact of writing a lay summary despite extensive evidence of the known benefits for the patients. ICU nurses anticipated having insufficient skills, not knowing the patient well enough, and fearing legal consequences of their writings. The intervention was designed to target the knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and perceived social influence. Building upon IM steps one to three, a concept discharge protocol was developed that is relevant and feasible within current daily practice. Conclusion: Intervention mapping provided a comprehensive framework to improve ICU discharge by guiding the development process of a theory- and empirically-based discharge protocol that is robust and useful in practice.

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Keywords Discharge protocol, Emotional distress, Health service research, Intensive care unit, Intervention mapping, Transition procedure
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Journal BMC Health Services Research
van Mol, M.M.C, Nijkamp, M.D, Markham, C. (Christine), & Ista, E. (2017). Using an intervention mapping approach to develop a discharge protocol for intensive care patients. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2782-2