Purpose: In the United Kingdom, critically ill adolescents are treated in either adult or pediatric intensive care units (AICUs or PICUs). This study explores staff perspectives on where and how best to care for this distinct group. Materials and Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 members of staff (3 medical, 6 nursing, and 3 allied health professionals) working in 4 ICUs; 2 general hospital AICUs and 2 tertiary centre–based PICUs in England. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using framework analysis. Findings: One overarching theme was identified, reflecting staff understanding of the term “adolescent,” and this was linked to 2 further themes, each of which had several subthemes. “Needs of the critically ill adolescent” included medical needs, dignity and privacy, issues around consent, and the impact of intensive care admission. “Implications for staff” included managing parental presence and lack of familiarity, and emotional impact, of dealing with this patient group. Some of these factors are currently better accommodated in adult settings. Conclusions: Decision-making about the place of care should take into account the individual circumstances of the patient (e.g., nature of their medical condition and previous experiences, maturity, family preference) and not be based only on age at admission. We should work across disciplines to ensure we can discover, and consistently deliver, best practice to meet the needs of critically ill adolescents.
- critical care
- intensive care units