Introduction: Although the recognition that the ICU is one of the major responsible for the evolution in health care in the last century, society continues with a stereotyped view, considering it as an aggressive, invasive, tense and traumatizing environment.
Objective: To review the literature to compare the perception of ICU patients about this environment and the professionals who work there.
Methods: A search was made in the scientific literature through queries in the electronic databases Lilacs, Medline, PubMed and Scielo, from the descriptors: perception, patients and intensive care unit and their correlates in English. We included original scientific studies of descriptive, experimental or causal - comparative typology; published between 1995-2015 dependent variable perception of patients on the ICU; patients who have been hospitalized; samples composed of individuals older than 18 years and preserved cognitive ability; clarity in the samples and analyzes.
Results: A total of 63 articles were found, of which 50 were excluded because they did not meet the inclusion criteria. Eight articles were used for analysis and discussion, being grouped in tables.
Conclusion: This literature review concludes that the ICU presents several stressors, both sensory factors and emotional factors provoked by the experiences and uncertainty of the outcome in the face of disease. The role of the interdisciplinary team is a fundamental point to address the resolution of these stressors.