Describing sleep and sedation practices in the ICU: a multinational survey

Jose Hofhuis, Louise Rose, Bronagh Blackwood, Eva Ackerman, Jennifer McGaughey, Ingrid Egerod, Mariann Fossum, Helen Foss, Evanthia Georgiou, Heidi Jeannet Graff, Maria Kalaffati, Richardo Sperlinga, Andreas Schaefer, Aleksandra Gutysz Wojnicka, Peter Spronk

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction Sleep disturbances are common in critically ill patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) with the potential for serious consequences and long-term effects on health outcomes and patient morbidity.
Objectives Our aim was to describe sleep management and sedation practices of adult ICUs in ten countries and to evaluate roles and responsibilities of the ICU staff in relation to key sleep and sedation decisions.
Methods A multicenter, self-administered survey sent to nurse managers of adult ICUs across 10 countries. The questionnaire comprised four domains: sleep characteristics of the critically ill; sleep and sedation practices; non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions used to improve sleep; and the autonomy and influence of nurses on sleeping practices in the ICU.
Results Overall response rate was 66% (range 32% UK to 100% Cyprus), providing data from 522 ICUs. In all countries, the most frequent patient characteristic perceived to identify sleep was lying quietly with closed eyes (N=409, 78%) (range 92% Denmark to 36% Italy). The most commonly used sedation scale was the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Score (RASS) (N=220, 42%) (range 81% UK to 0% Denmark, Cyprus where most ICUs used the Ramsay score). In most ICUs, selection of sleep medication (N=265, 51%) and assessment of effect (N=309, 59%) was performed by physicians and nurses based on collaborative discussion. In a minority of ICUs (N=161, 31%), decisions and assessments were made by physicians alone. The most commonly used (in all countries) non-pharmacological intervention to promote sleep was reducing ICU staff noise (N=473, 91%) (range 100% Denmark, Norway to 78% Canada). Only 95 ICUs (18%) used earplugs on a frequent basis (range 0% Greece, Cyprus, Denmark to 57% Sweden). Propofol was the drug used most commonly for sedation (N=359, 69%) (range 96% Sweden to 29% Canada). Chloral hydrate was used by only 63 (12%) ICUs (range 0% Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, Italy to 56% Germany). Sedation scales were used on a routine basis by 77% of the 522 ICUs. Participants scored nursing autonomy for sleep and sedation management as moderate; median score of 5 (scale of 0 to 10), range 7 (Canada, Greece, Sweden) to 4 (Norway, Poland). Nursing influence on sleep and sedation decisions was perceived considerable; median score 8, range 9 (Denmark) to 5 (Poland).
Conclusions We found considerable across country variation in sleep promotion and sedation management practices though most have adopted a sedation scale as recommended in professional society guidelines. Most ICUs in all countries used a range of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to promote sleep. Most units reported inter-professional decision-making with nurses perceived to have substantial influence on sleep/sedation decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted - 03 Oct 2016
EventESICM 29th Annual Congress - Milan, Italy
Duration: 01 Oct 201605 Oct 2016


ConferenceESICM 29th Annual Congress


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