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Lampridou S, Tavares S, Bassett P, Jennings CS The effect of partners on smoking cessation among patients with cardiovascular disease. Br J Cardiac Nurs. 2023;

Mainds MD, Jones C Breaking bad news and managing family during an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. J Para Pract. 2018; 10:(7)292-299

Nevins M What are family member experiences of the resuscitation of a relative?. J Para Pract. 2016; 8:(6)302-310

Family Matters

02 April 2023
Volume 15 · Issue 4

What is the role of a person’s family in the care of their loved one? How might they feel about decisions being made? How might they influence a patient’s health behaviours? How might their presence during care delivery of a loved one impact their own wellbeing?

One area where there exists a lack of conclusive evidence is that of family presence during resuscitation. While prehospital literature is sparse, how clinicians feel about the presence of family during resuscitation in the emergency department is well evidenced, but controversial (Mainds and Jones, 2018). However, given the option, it appears that most family members would like to have been present during their loved one’s resuscitation had they been given the opportunity, but most are never offered this chance (Mainds and Jones, 2018).

Witnessing the resuscitation of a loved one can be seen as a potentially traumatic event; however, not being able to be present for their loved one’s resuscitation may also feel traumatic in terms of their own wellbeing, their need to offer to support to their loved one, and in terms of how supported the patient feels as well (Nevins, 2016). Family presence during resuscitation is associated with positive psychological outcomes for relatives (Jabre et al, 2013). In the event that their loved one dies, family involvement can also really help with the process of grieving, alongside the knowledge that every effort was made in attempting to save their loved one, which can in turn make the acceptance of a death outcome more tolerable (Brown, 2016).

On p.146 of the current issue of the Journal of Paramedic Practice, Arron Glenwright-Cook delves into some of the literature to help determine how family members and their chances of developing post-traumatic stress are affected by witnessing their loved one’s resuscitation.

Interestingly, with No Smoking Day having taken place last month on 8th March, in the most recent issue of our sister journal, the British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, Lampridou et al explores the potential of supporting people with cardiovascular disease to quit smoking by capitalising on the influence of their partners, highlighting once again, the important role of family in healthcare. The community aspect of cardiac rehabilitation is already known to help patients; however, this thoughtprovoking work raises the question of whether spouses and family are perhaps an underused resource when it comes to supporting behaviour change in preventative cardiology programmes.

While paramedics are understandably focused on attempting to save a life and may not feel equipped to also support a person’s family members during a resuscitation, evidence seems to suggest that it may well be beneficial to find a way to do so for the relatives who do in fact want to be present while every effort is being made to save the person they love. After all, family matters.