Long-term effect of the ICU-diary concept on quality of life after critical illness

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Critically ill patients often spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU) either unconscious or sedated. On recovery, they are often in a state of confusion with memory loss that may be associated with a longstanding reduction in health-related quality of life (QoL). We hypothesised that the ICU-diary concept could improve their QoL by filling in their memory gaps.


A non-randomised, prospective study in a non-academic eight-bedded general ICU. A group of patients (n=38) were selected to receive the ICU-diary concept (keeping a diary with photos while on the ICU plus a follow-up meeting) when a long and complicated course was expected. Health-related QoL at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months was compared with a group that did not receive the ICU-diary (n=224). The Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form (SF-36) was used to measure health-related QoL. Multiple regression models adjusted for age, sex, illness severity, pre-existing disease and diagnostic category was used to analyse the effects of the ICU-diary concept at 6 months, and changes over time were analysed using repeated measures MANOVA.


Crude and adjusted scores for two dimensions of SF-36 (general health and vitality) and the physical component summary score were significantly higher at 6 months in the ICU-diary group (P<0.05) and some of the effects remained during the 3-year follow-up period (P<0.05).


The ICU-diary concept was associated with improved health-related QoL during the 3-year follow-up period after a critical illness. The effect of this intervention needs to be confirmed in a larger randomised study.

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