Date of Award

Spring 1985

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

McLane, Audrey M.

Second Advisor

Stollenwerk, Ruth M.

Third Advisor

Gershan, J. A.


Clinical experiences with the families of cardiac surgery patients during hospitalization and recovery have indicated that surgery represents a source of great stress and unanticipated difficulty for them. The purposes of this study were to describe the needs of families of cardiac surgery patients in the critical phase and to generate hypotheses for further study. To study the problem, answers to four questions were sought: (1) What personal needs do relatives of critically ill cardiac surgery patients identify?; (2) What is the importance of the needs to the relatives?; (3) What is the incidence of needs satisfaction?; and (4) Who assists in the fulfillment of the identified needs for the relatives? An exploratory descriptive research design was used. Thirty-six relatives of twenty-five cardiac surgery patients were administered the Needs of Relatives Questionnaire as utilized by Rodgers (1983). Family demographic data were also analyzed using the Hollingshead Index of Social Position (1975). Relatives were instructed to rate the importance of each need item (n=45) on the questionnaire on a four-point Likert scale. Ranking of needs from most important to least important was accomplished by mean scores. The need to feel the hospital personnel cared about their relative was identified by most relatives as being the most important. The needs for information about what was being done for the relative, and how the relative was going to be treated medically were also identified. Using the t-test for independent groups and a one-way analysis of variance, some needs were found to vary in importance according to the demographic variables studied. The majority of needs were met at least 60 percent of the time. Nurses were identified as being the primary resource for need satisfaction by relatives for the majority of need items. The findings of this study suggest families of cardiac surgery patients do have important needs during the critical care phase and nurses are assisting relatives in meeting these needs.