The Meaning of Comfort in the Intensive Care Unit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Providing comfort in an intensive care unit (ICU) setting is often related to pain relief and end-of-life care; environmental factors are often neglected, despite the major role of the environment on the patients' well-being and comfort. The aim of this article was to explore the meanings of comfort from a theoretical and empirical perspective to increase the understanding of what comfort means in ICU settings. A lexical analysis and serials of workshops were performed, and data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis. The findings from the theoretical analysis show that comfort has a broad range of synonyms related to both subjective experiences and objective and physical qualities. The findings from the empirical part reveal 4 themes: comfort in relation to nature, comfort in relation to situation and people, comfort in relation to place, and comfort in relation to objects and material. Materiality, functionality, memory, culture, and history stipulate comfort. It is challenging to discern what comfort is when it comes to function and emotions. We also found that comfort is closely linked to nature and well-being.


External organisations
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
  • University of Borås
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing


  • comfort, content analysis, ethical considerations, intensive care unit, lexical analysis, well-being
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-341
JournalCritical Care Nursing Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes