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How are you feeling 6 months after your ICU discharge?
© BioMed Central Ltd 2006
Published: 21 March 2006
Staying in an ICU is a distressing event that can influence quality of life (QOL). We compared the QOL of patients 1 month before hospitalization and 6 months later.
The study included all adult patients who stayed for more than 24 hours in a mixed, 31-bed, medico-surgical ICU of a university hospital, between 3 June and 13 November 2004. During their ICU stay, we questioned patients or their relatives about their QOL (EuroQOL-5D) 1 month before hospital admission, and collected all their data. Six months after ICU discharge, we questioned the surviving patients again, by telephone or by letter, about their QOL at that time and their memories about the ICU stay.
Six months after ICU discharge, 68% of respondents perceived the general state of their health to be the same as or better than it had been before hospitalization (P < 0.001). The global EuroQOL-5D 6 months after ICU discharge was somewhat lower (i.e. QOL somewhat better) than before hospitalization, although this was not significant (P = 0.12). Each component of the EuroQOL-5D (mobility, autonomy, usual activities, pain/ discomfort, anxiety/depression) was the same as or better after ICU discharge than before hospitalization in the majority of the respondents (P < 0.001). If necessary, 92% of patients said they would return to the ICU, 5% would not return and 3% did not know (P < 0.001). The most common disturbing memory was loss of orientation in time (36%) and the item perceived as most important was fear of dying, with a grade of 8 on a scale from 0 to 10.
In our experience, the general state of patients' health and their quality of life 6 months after hospitalization in an ICU was the same as or better than 1 month before, in the majority of respondents. Most patients would agree to be readmitted to the ICU if necessary. Loss of orientation in time was the most commonly reported disturbing memory and fear of dying was the most important item.