Understanding ICU Families

Family members have been shown to be integral to the well-being and recovery of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Watching a loved one fight a critical illness, however, can be a terrifying and life-altering experience. Through 3 months (80 hours) of ethnography, we studied the complex environment and observe family-care team interactions. We then captured family experiences using journals and semi-structured interviews. Based on these investigations, we propose a framework called NES (Nurture-Empower-Support) to aid the creation of a holistic system that supports the dynamic needs of families in the ICU.

whiteboard aid
The NES framework.

We also invesitgated how current aids in the ICU are used and the challenges associated with them and created prototypes of family-centered aids through a co-design session to reveal the opportunities that emerge for technology to facilitate family member support in the ICU without adding additional burdens on the care team.


Janet G. Johnson, Evan Schmitz, Venktesh Ramnath, and Nadir Weibel. Nurture-Empower-Support: A Human-Centered Approach to Understand and Support ICU Families. PervasiveHealth '19, Trento, Italy.

Janet G. Johnson, Evan Schmitz, Venktesh Ramnath, and Nadir Weibel. Designing Family-Centered Aids for the Intensive Care Unit. CHI '19 Extended Abstracts, Glasgow, UK.


Evan Schmitz, Venktesh Ramnath, Nadir Weibel