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Family-witnessed resuscitation: focus group inquiry into UK student nurse experiences of simulated resuscitation scenarios
  1. David Pontin1,
  2. Gerard Kenny2,
  3. Issy Bray3,
  4. John Albarran2
  1. 1Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, School of Care Sciences, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, UK
  2. 2Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  3. 3Department of Health and Social Sciences, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor David Pontin, Faculty of Life Sciences & Education, University of South Wales, Treforest, Pontypridd CF37 4BD, UK; david.pontin{at}


Aims To describe the impact of family members’ presence on student nurse performance in a witnessed resuscitation scenario. To explore student nurses’ attitudes to simulated family-witnessed resuscitation and their views about its place in clinical practice.

Background Family-witnessed resuscitation remains controversial worldwide. Hospital implementation remains inconsistent despite professional organisation support. Systematic reviews of international literature indicate family members wish to be involved and consulted; healthcare professionals express concerns about being observed while resuscitating. Student nurse perspectives have not been addressed.

Design Qualitative, focus groups.

Methods Participants: UK university second-year student nurses (n=48) who participated in simulated resuscitation scenarios (family member absent, family member present but quiet or family member present but distressed). Data generation 2014: focus group interview schedule—five open-ended questions and probing techniques. Audio recordings transcribed, analysed thematically. Research ethics approval via University Research Ethics committee.

Findings Overarching theme=students’ sense making—making sense of situation (practically/professionally), of themselves (their skills/values) and of others (patients/family members). Students identify as important team leader allocating tasks, continuity of carer and number of nurses needed. Three orientations to practice are identified and explored—includes rule following, guidance from personal/proto-professional values and paternalistic protectionism.

Discussion We explore issues of students’ fluency of response and skills repertoire to support family-witnessed resuscitation; explanatory potential to account for the inconsistent uptake of family-witnessed resuscitation. Possible future lines of inquiry include family members’ gaze as a motivational trigger, and management of guilt.

  • family witnessed resuscitation
  • simulation
  • qualitative research
  • student nurses

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