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Health-related quality of life in critically ill octogenarians: a long-term follow-up study


Mortality after critical illness is higher and recovery is slower in the elderly compared with younger patients. Elderly patients recovering from critical illness may show reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL) [1]. We studied the impact of ICU stay on HRQOL of octogenarians, and compared their HRQOL with the same age-matched general population.


We performed a long-term prospective study in a medical–surgical ICU. Patients ≥ 80 years (n = 129) admitted for >48 hours were included. We used the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) to evaluate HRQOL before ICU admission (using proxies), at ICU discharge and at hospital discharge and at 3, 6 and 12 months following ICU discharge. Furthermore we compared HRQOL before ICU admission and 12 months after ICU discharge with those of an age-matched general Dutch population. The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used for evaluating changes between two time points. To analyze individual changes over time, a MANOVA test was used, with Wilks' lambda as the multivariate test.


Mortality was considerable in the 129 included octogenarians. Patients could be evaluated 6 months (n = 48) and 12 months (n = 27) after ICU discharge (11 patients were lost to follow-up, 70 patients died). All SF-36 dimensions changed significantly over time (all P < 0.001), with the exception of the role-emotional dimension. However, after an initial drop, HRQOL recovered to pre-ICU levels in all dimensions. The physical component scores changed significantly over time (all P < 0.001), whereas the mental component scores showed only a modest decline at ICU discharge but recovered rapidly and had improved to higher than baseline values with longer follow-up to 12 months after ICU discharge. The pre-admission HRQOL in surviving octogenarians was already lower when compared with the age-matched general population and remained so at 12 months after ICU discharge.


Critically ill octogenarians demonstrate a sharp decline of HRQOL during the ICU stay and a gradual improvement during the 6 months and 12 months following ICU discharge to baseline values. Recovery begins following ICU discharge to the general ward. This implies that intensive care treatment in patients ≥ 80 years is worthwhile.


  1. 1.

    Vazquez MG, et al.: Factors related to quality of life 12 months after discharge from an intensive care unit. Crit Care Med 1992, 20: 1257-1262.

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Hofhuis, J., Van Stel, H., Schrijvers, A. et al. Health-related quality of life in critically ill octogenarians: a long-term follow-up study. Crit Care 13, P517 (2009).

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  • Critical Illness
  • Component Score
  • Mental Component Score
  • Physical Component Score
  • Intensive Care Treatment