Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Doyle, Philip


Critical illness creates long-term physical, psychological and cognitive deficits that negatively impact quality of life, persisting well beyond hospital discharge. The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study is to understand and develop theoretical propositions on factors that patient’s perceive influence the process of recovery from critical illness in order to inform more comprehensive patient care management strategies.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 participants admitted to an ICU. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and analysis occurred concurrently using the constant comparative method. Data were analysed initially with line-by-line coding, then focused coding. Initial codes were collapsed and organized into categories and theoretical concepts that later informed theory construction.

Our data informed the generation of 2 theoretical concepts: 1) “critical illness and care environment”, sub-categories isolation, disempowerment, emotions, mental functions, human connection to people, home and outside world; and 2) “the person”, sub-categories mental health and personal traits. The relationships among the theoretical concepts and categories were explored with “The Person”, “Family” and “Care Environment” emerging as central to the process of recovery from critical illness.

The findings of this study suggest that patients perceive family, the care environment and aspects of the person as central to the process of recovery from critical illness; forming the FaCeT grounded theory of recovery. This theory aims to provide a greater understanding of factors perceived to influence the process of recovery and can be used to inform comprehensive patient care strategies aimed at optimizing long-term outcomes following critical illness.