The relationship between executive dysfunction, depression, and mental health-related quality of life in survivors of critical illness: Results from the BRAIN-ICU investigation☆, ☆☆

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Although executive dysfunction and depression are common among intensive care unit (ICU) survivors, their relationship has not been evaluated in this population. We sought to determine (1) if executive dysfunction is independently associated with severity of depressive symptoms or worse mental health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in ICU survivors, and (2) if age modifies these associations.


In a prospective cohort (n = 136), we measured executive dysfunction by the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function–Adult, depression by the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and mental HRQOL by the Short-Form 36. We used multiple linear regression models, adjusting for potential confounders. We included age as an interaction term to test for effect modification.


Executive dysfunction 3 months post-ICU was independently associated with more depressive symptoms and worse mental HRQOL 12 months post-ICU (25th vs 75th percentile of executive functioning scored 4.3 points worse on the depression scale [95% confidence interval, 1.3-7.4; P = .015] and 5 points worse on the Short-Form 36 [95% confidence interval, 1.7-8.3; P = .006]). Age did not modify these associations (depression: P = .12; mental HRQOL: P = .80).


Regardless of age, executive dysfunction was independently associated with subsequent worse severity of depressive symptoms and worse mental HRQOL. Executive dysfunction may have a key role in the development of depression.

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