Nature of nurse's verbal communication with unconscious or sedated pateints in an intensive care unit at a tertiary care hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MScN)


School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


Verbal communication is an important aspect of nursing care, whether the patient is conscious or unconscious. Unconscious patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) can develop sensory overload or sensory deprivation if there is lack of verbal communication with them. Although this phenomenon has been explored extensively in the western context and there is plenty of literature on this topic, no information was available on this topic in the Pakistani context. This study aims to assess the nature of verbal communication of nurses with adult intubated, unconscious, or sedated and ventilated patients in ICU. A quantitative descriptive design was used to conduct this study. Ethical approval was sought from the Ethical Review Committee (ERC) at the Aga Khan University (AKU). Universal sampling was employed to select the participants. 31 ICU nurses were observed, using the time sampling method. Each nurse was observed for 4 hour episodes, for a total of 124 hours. Results of this study indicated that a small proportion of time i.e. only 0.056% was spent by the ICU nurses in actual verbal communication with their patients. In addition, it clearly stood out that most (0.055%) of the content of the verbal communication by the ICU nurses was related to giving information about the task and procedure. Findings of this study have identified the actual practices of nurses' verbal communication in ICU. The study findings have highlighted the need for nurses to be vigilant and to make deliberate efforts for verbal communication with unconscious/sedated patients. Further work on this phenomenon can be carried out in the light of evidence obtained through this descriptive study.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library