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Table 4 Qualitative themes of physical health

From: Patient outcomes after critical illness: a systematic review of qualitative studies following hospital discharge


Example quote(s)


1. “I can move now, before, I thought I will stay handicapped all my life. But never mind, I feel grateful just to have the ability to walk again …”

2. “Then I had to try to get up with a walker and I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even hold my head. I wasn’t able to do anything.”

Activities of daily living

1. “My day-to-day life is anything but normal. I want to be able to cook, clean and do the gardening, walk to the shops … recovery has been reasonable.”

2. “For the first couple of weeks, we were sort of … doing things like getting his clothes and organizing his shower and all that sort of thing. I practically was just running around doing little bits for him, organizing what tablets he had to take and all this sort of thing.”


1. “I probably went too far. I mean, I was at home and tried to arrange that my husband didn’t need to come home and do things. But then I was tired and couldn’t handle it anyway.”

2. “I need an afternoon nap, sometimes two …”


“Now it’s going ok again, I’m eating well, and I’m sleeping so well! I feel better, even better than before …, a little frustration at not having an appetite and my insides not really knowing where they should be ….”

Sensory changes

“I also have double vision … I can’t read … I can’t even watch telly … it’s like being in prison.”

Muscle weakness

“The most difficult bit was … I felt it took forever before I regained my strength. I just deposited my physical strength at the hospital and I still feel it. I mean, I don’t feel I am up to my usual strength yet … I feel that I need more strength to open the lid of a jar of jam. I was actually quite strong before I got sick.”

Sleep disturbances

1. “I slept so badly, I had these awful dreams, really horrible …”; “It’s incredible to wake up all of a sudden only to find that, well, everything’s OK, and you wake up anyway just to check …”

2. “I’m sleeping really badly, I wake up often, I only sleep in small bits, it’s true that my sleep is not doing me good.”