Skip to main content

Health-related quality of life before intensive care


We hypothesise that subjects admitted to the ICU have lower self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in the month before intensive care compared with the normal healthy population.


Potential participants were patients admitted for more than 48 hours to a 12-bed medical-surgical ICU. Patients or their proxies were asked to give informed consent and complete the SF-36. The SF-36 is a questionnaire measuring HRQOL on eight subscales [1]. The use of the SF-36 in proxies has been validated [2, 3]. Participants were asked to complete the SF-36 based on the situation 4 weeks before ICU admission. SF-36 scores were compared with normative data (n = 1,742) [1], by independent t tests.


Fifty-one questionnaires were completed, of which 28 (51.9%) were completed by a proxy. HRQOL before ICU admission was significantly lower on all SF-36 domains compared with the general population (P < 0.0001) (Figure 1). This is in line with findings in one other Dutch survey [4].

Figure 1

HRQOL pre ICU compared with the healthy population.


HRQOL before admittance to the ICU is lower compared with HRQOL in the normal healthy population. This is likely to contribute to the diminished HRQOL after ICU discharge. To measure the influence of critical illness and ICU stay on HRQOL after an ICU stay, it is important to measure HRQOL before ICU admission.


  1. 1.

    Aaronson NK, et al.: J Clin Epidemiol. 1998, 51: 1055-1068. 10.1016/S0895-4356(98)00097-3

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Hofhuis J, et al.: Intensive Care Med. 2003, 29: 974-979.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Rogers J, et al.: Anaesthesia. 1997, 52: 1137-1143. 10.1111/j.1365-2044.1997.240-az0374.x

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Hofhuis JG, et al.: Chest. 2008, 133: 377-385. 10.1378/chest.07-1217

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to B Wittekamp.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wittekamp, B., Tjan, D. Health-related quality of life before intensive care. Crit Care 14, P442 (2010).

Download citation


  • Public Health
  • Informed Consent
  • General Population
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Normative Data